Six-Pack of Seven-Up: No. 7 Porsche 963 has 6 Podiums in Last 7 Races

By Tony DiZinno

IMSA Wire Service

The numbers 6 and 7 hold special historical significance to Roger Penske for his sports car program from when it first started back in the 1960s.

They also serve as a nice statistical barometer for one of its two Porsche 963 cars covering the last seven IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship races.

At last year’s Road America event, the seventh of the 2023 season, the team’s No. 7 Porsche 963 broke through for its elusive first victory and the first for the team in a standard-length, two-hour, 40-minute race with the new Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) car.

Matt Campbell moved to the front of the grid when the Motul Pole Award-winning No. 31 Whelen Cadillac Racing Cadillac V-Series.R had an off in the morning warmup, prompting a rapid repair and a loss of its grid position. From there, Campbell’s dominant first stint before handing off to Felipe Nasr ensured the victory was theirs.

What wasn’t apparent then but followed in the subsequent nine months is the run of form for the No. 7 car that has emerged as the class of the GTP field.

The No. 7 finished second at Indianapolis and then had a relative “off” day of fourth at Motul Petit Le Mans to conclude the 2023 season. The 2024 campaign has opened with a flourish, with a win at the Rolex 24 At Daytona and three consecutive third-place finishes in Sebring, Long Beach and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. Its current run of four consecutive podiums is the longest for any GTP car since the class began in 2023.

That marks six podiums in the last seven races, one away from a perfect seven-for-seven for the No. 7. No other GTP car has scored more than three podiums in the same period.

That partially speaks to the parity in GTP, but it also speaks to what the No. 7 car has achieved given the depth of field.

It’s perhaps more impressive given there’s been a full-season lineup change for 2024. Nasr has continued for a second season, while Campbell and Dane Cameron have swapped their Porsche Penske driving assignments between the WeatherTech Championship and the FIA World Endurance Championship.

Jonathan Diuguid, managing director of Porsche Penske Motorsport, explained the rationale behind the Campbell-to-Cameron switch alongside two-time IMSA prototype champion Nasr for 2024.

“We are making the decision between great and great there. Those guys are very accomplished and have done well in previous races in their career, but really functioned well with the team in 2023,” Diuguid said preseason.

“We had a look at the pros and cons of making some changes to improve our performance, but in general there is no bad decision there. Matt was extremely strong in the IMSA championship in 2023 and showed that he was able to compete at the highest level, and similarly with Dane as well in the WEC.

“We felt like we needed to make a change because we did not meet our goals, which are to win championships in both series.”

The switch produced immediate results as the quartet of Nasr, Campbell, Cameron and Josef Newgarden delivered the win at the Rolex 24.

“Wow! Right after crossing the finish line, I had to take a moment and let it all sink in,” Nasr reflected. “To have the decision in a 24-hour race come down to the very last few meters in a head-to-head duel – unbelievable. … We gave everything tactically and driving-wise to take this victory. It worked. I’m super proud of everyone in the team.”

So how has this start positioned the No. 7 Porsche to achieve said goal?

Unsurprisingly, Cameron and Nasr lead the GTP championship points standings with the four podiums, but it’s not a runaway.

The No. 31 Cadillac is hot on their heels, with Pipo Derani and Jack Aitken only 50 points in arrears. That pair has been similarly consistent, with three poles and three runner-up finishes to open the year. The only blemish was Derani’s sizable incident at Sebring.

Can the No. 7 Porsche extend its run to a seventh podium in eight races, at Penske’s home race in Detroit? You can see the next race, the Chevrolet Detroit Sports Car Classic, where the GTP class runs alongside GT Daytona Pro (GTD PRO). The 100-minute race airs live at 3 p.m. ET Saturday, June 1 on USA Network and Peacock.