Meyer Shank Racing edged out Wayne Taylor Racing to win Petit Le Mans and claim the championship in a thrilling final race for the DPi division.
Tom Blomqvist, who started from the pole position, drove the No. 60 Acura ARX-05 to a 4.369-second victory over Pippo Derani in the No. 31 Cadillac Action Express.
“That was amazing,” Bloomqvist told NBC Sports’ Matt Yocum. “I have never dug so deep in my life. The adrenaline. I did this for the boys. I was so motivated to win this thing this weekend. But I have to thank everyone from the whole team.”
With co-drivers Oliver Jarvis and Helio Castroneves, Blomqvist helped MSR record its season-opening win at the Rolex 24 at Daytona by winning Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season finale at Michelin Road Atlanta.
— Meyer Shank Racing (@MeyerShankRac) October 2, 2022
Between those two wins, the No. 60 earned five runner-up spots to stay in the thick of the championship and trail WTR’s No. 10 Acura by 14 points entering Saturday’s race.
WTR’s Filipe Albuquerque had a lead of more than 10 seconds over Blomqvist with less than 50 minutes to go in the 10-hour race.
But a Turn 1 crash between the Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillacs brought out a yellow that sent both Acuras into the pits from the top two positions.
Although he came in second, Blomqvist barely beat Albuquerque out of the boxand he held onto the lead for the final 45 minutes.
The 60s win the battle off pit road and lead the 10s in the race for @IMSA DPi Championship.
— Motorsports on NBC (@MotorsportsNBC) October 2, 2022
Blomqvist said he gained the lead due to a shorter refueling, having worked on his efficiency in the penultimate stint.
“The team asked a lot of work from me with the fuel; I had to reach a large amount of fuel,” Blomqvist said. “We knew this was probably our only chance. The yellow came at the right time and obviously we had a bit less fuel to fill so I was able to jump it and then it was just a matter of drive and not leaving anything on the line. And apparently the opposition had to try too hard to make it work. I am so grateful.”
Albuquerque closed to within a few car lengths of Blomqvist with 14 minutes remaining, but he damaged his suspension due to contact with a GT car in Turn 1.
This is the first prototype championship for Meyer Shank Racing, which also won the 2021 Indy 500 with Castroneves.
“We’ve had three championships in the last four years for Acura, winning the Indy 500 and the Rolex 24, it doesn’t get any better,” team co-owner Mike Shank told NBC Sports’ Kevin Lee.
This is the third straight runner-up in the points standings for Wayne Taylor Racing, who won the inaugural Daytona Prototype International Championship in 2017. The premier category will be renamed the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class with the LMDh cars establishing a bridge to the races at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Kamui Kobayashi finished third in the No. 48 Cadillac of Action Express, which also included Jimmie Johnson and Mike Rockenfeller.
The podium showing marked Johnson’s last scheduled race in the IMSA Top Prototype division. The seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion competed in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac line-up while the Action Express entry competed in the Endurance Cup races.
Johnson said the lack of inventory would prevent him from riding in 2023 in the top division. But he still hopes to race the Garage 56 Next Gen Camaro at the 24 Hours of Le Mans next year and possibly enter a lower class for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
“I would love to be at Le Mans next year,” Johnson told NBC Sports’ Dylan Welch after his final stint on Saturday. “I would love to be at the Rolex 24. The series is going through a shake-up with the reconfiguration of the rules and classes, so I don’t have anything locked in yet, but I’m so grateful for this action experience. The support that Ally has given us, Mr. Hendrick, Chad Knaus, everyone at Hendrick Motorsports. It’s been a fun two years and I certainly hope to be back at the start next year.”