Friday saw 43 IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge teams venture onto Daytona International Speedway’s 3.56-mile road course for two on-track sessions. At the end of the day, KohR Motorsports’ Luca Mars was quickest with a lap at 113.374 mph.
Session No. 1
During the morning session, the cool weather allowed teams to get a jump start on their qualifying setups. The quick times jumped around in the opening minutes as drivers got their feet wet.
10 minutes into the session, Mars turned in the quickest lap of the day to pass NV Autosport’s Stephen Vajda to top the chart.
Mars’ lap was nearly four-tenths of a second faster than Winward Racing’s Daniel Morad. BGB Motorsports’ Spencer Pumpelly had the fastest Porsche in third, then Rebel Rock Racing’s Robin Liddell. PF Racing’s Harrison Burton was fifth in his Ford Mustang GT4.
NOLAsport’s Adam Adelson was sixth in his Porsche, then Conrad Grunewald in the Archangel Motorsports Aston Martin. Chad McCumbee, now driving his own Mustang as opposed to an entry for PF Racing, was eighth fastest. Accelerating Performance’s Michael Cooper and Vajda rounded out the top 10.
In TCR, VGRT’s Victor Gonzalez Jr. was fastest in class with a lap at 107.833 mph in his Honda Civic Type-R TCR, good for 31st overall. This came despite Gonzalez stopping on course early in the session and bringing out a red flag.
Gonzalez’s lap was seven-hundredths of a second faster than the Alfa Romeo of KMW Motorsports with TMR Engineering’s Tim Lewis Jr. HART’s Steve Eich was third, then LA Honda World Racing’s Mike LaMarra. Mark Wilkins had the fastest Hyundai in fifth.
Session No. 2
Defending NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion Zane Smith has no previous experience racing any kind of sports car. The extent of his road racing experience comes from the Truck Series, where he has five career starts with a best finish of second last year at Sonoma Raceway.
Despite the lack of experience, two of those five road course starts came on Daytona International Speedway’s road course, where he has a best finish of 13th. That experience paid dividends as Smith was fastest overall in the second session with a lap at 113.257 mph.
Smith’s lap was nearly a half-second faster than BGB Motorsports’ Jeroen Bleekemolen. Jensen Altzman was third in the McCumbee-McAleer Racing Mustang, then Mars’ teammate Bob Michaelian and Ben Rhodes in the second PF Racing Ford.
Morad was sixth fastest, then CarBahn Motorsports with Peregrine Racing’s Jeff Westphal. Van der Steur Racing’s Austin McCusker was eighth, while Murillo Racing’s Christian Szymczak was ninth. Adelson was 10th.
Gonzalez managed to better his time from the morning session, turning in a lap at 108.606 mph (28th overall) to lead the TCR. Gonzalez was three-quarters of a second faster than Roy Block in the Alfa Romeo. Wilkins was third, then HART’s Mario Farnbacher and Deily Motorsports’ Tyler Maxson.
About the author
Phil Allaway has three primary roles at Frontstretch. He's the manager of the site's FREE e-mail newsletter that publishes Monday-Friday and occasionally on weekends. He keeps TV broadcasters honest with weekly editions of Couch Potato Tuesday and serves as the site's Sports Car racing editor.
Outside of Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. He covers all the action on the high-banked dirt track from regular DIRTcar Modified racing to occasional visits from touring series such as the Super DIRTcar Series.
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