Meyer Shank Racing full-season drivers Dane Cameron and Olivier Pla combined to compete in the first-ever qualifying race during the Roar Before the 24 on Sunday. The pair raced in a 100-minute shootout to finish fourth, which will place the No. 60 SiriusXM / AutoNation Acura ARX-05 on the second row for the 59th annual Rolex 24 At Daytona.
Cameron and Pla will be joined by Juan Pablo Montoya and AJ Allmendinger for next week’s 24 hour event. Allmendinger will also make his 15th Rolex 24 race start with MSR next Saturday.
Saturday saw Cameron qualify the No. 60 Acura DPi fourth for Sunday’s Motul Pole Award 100 at Daytona. With teams needing to select just two drivers to complete the shootout, full-season drivers Cameron and Pla were slated to take on the sprint style race.
After rain fell just over an hour ahead of the race start, competitors were greeted with a wet track surface to kick off the 2021 season of IMSA competition.
Two full course cautions were deployed within the first 10 laps, with Cameron using one of those periods to pit for fuel and remain on Michelin rain tires. It was decided just one lap later that Cameron would once again bring in the Acura to pit lane to change over to slicks.
The decision paid off as Cameron raced from seventh to fourth before pitting on lap 31 to put Pla in. Pla’s strong out lap put him within reach of the third place running car. Despite making one extra stop (three vs. two) compared to its competitors, Meyer Shank Racing was still able to finish fourth – which place the team on the outside of the second row for next Saturday’s Rolex 24 At Daytona.
Meyer Shank Racing’s Road to the 24:
The 59th annual Rolex 24 At Daytona will be MSR’s 18th year competing in the twice around the clock event. The team has 12 years of Prototype competition under its belt before switching to the GT-Daytona class in 2017 as the factory Acura NSX GT3 team.
MSR made its first entry into the Rolex 24 in 2004 and finished a respectable fourth place. Just two years later in 2006 MSR made its first appearance on the Daytona podium after finishing second with drivers, Ozz Negri, Allmendinger, Mark Patterson and the late Justin Wilson. In 2008, the Rolex 24 had an all-MSR front row with the Ohio-based team earning it’s first-ever Rolex 24 pole position as Ozz Negri bested the previous Daytona Prototype track record as he posted a 1:40.793-second lap. The team’s sister car qualified by Allmendinger finished just one spot behind in second.
Four years later, Meyer Shank Racing finally earned the coveted title of Rolex 24 overall winners as the team drove its No. 60 Daytona Prototype to victory lane with Negri, John Pew, Allmendinger and Wilson. The team went on to stand on the Daytona podium two more times (2013 & 2018) in both Prototype and GT competition.
MSR is coming off big momentum after scoring back-to-back GTD championships (2019 & 2020) prior to returning to IMSA’s Prototype category in 2021. Now, with a stacked lineup of drivers and a top manufacturer partner in Acura, Meyer Shank Racing is once again ready to go for its second overall victory at the Rolex 24.
MSR Rolex 24 At Daytona Stats:
Victories: 1 (2012)
Pole Positions: 2 (2008 & 2015)
Podiums: 3 (2006, 2013, 2018)
“I think the guys did a great job this weekend. Luckily, we were able to test the car with Dane, Olivier and AJ in December which helped us a lot in terms of being prepared this weekend. There were a few things that we had to work on early in the weekend but the crew sorted it out and we ended up having a pretty solid race car by Sunday. Starting fourth is great for us. We have a very busy week ahead of us so we’re just going to put our heads down and continue to put the work in to be prepared for next weekend.”
“P4 for us the first time out and the first time for Meyer Shank Racing with the Acura ARX Prototype, so we’ll take it. We definitely learned a lot about the car in the last day or two. We struggled a little bit the first two days to get the balance to where we wanted, but the car ran great today. For us, today was a great opportunity to do live driver changes and pit stops. Oli (Pla) got to do full stints in the car and was able to understand the tools a lot better. It was different and a little interesting for us to have this type of race, but for us it was super helpful and I think we all feel more prepared going into the Rolex.”
“Today went really well for us and it was a great test for us to get some practice in. It was my first race with this car and we keep improving every session. I’m still learning this car but every day has been getting easier and easier. I think we are all happy with P4, we still have some work to do but the main thing is that we keep making improvements.”
Source. Sunday Group