McAleer Begins Daytona Win Defense with Pole-Winning Run
1/26/23 (via IMSA.com)
The Scotsman and Co-Driver Eric Filgueiras Will Lead the 46-Car Field in the BMW M Endurance Challenge
By Holly Cain
BMW M Endurance Challenge Qualifying Results
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Stevan McAleer began defense of his 2022 IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge win at Daytona International Speedway in fine form Thursday, capturing the pole position for Friday’s BMW M Endurance Challenge that starts the 2023 season.
McAleer, driving the No. 28 RS1 Porsche 718 GT4 RS Clubsport that he shares with Eric Filgueiras, turned the best lap in the Grand Sport (GS) qualifying session of 1 minute, 52.157 seconds (114.268 mph) to secure the Motul Pole Award. It was the Scotsman’s second career pole and first since 2014 in the Street Tuner class.
McAleer will lead a field of 46 cars to the green flag (32 in GS and 14 in Touring Car) in the four-hour race. Starting alongside on the front row will be the No. 59 KohR Motorsports Ford Mustang GT4, following an impressive qualifying run by 16-year-old Luca Mars that came up just 0.038 seconds short of McAleer. NASCAR star Zane Smith – the 2022 Craftsman Truck Series champion – qualified third in the No. 42 Ford Mustang GT4 he will co-drive with NASCAR Cup Series driver Harrison Burton.
“The four-hour race, there’s obviously a lot can happen,’’ said McAleer, a 10-time Michelin Pilot Challenge race winner who insists there are 10-12 cars with a legitimate shot to win. “It’s nice to be at the point end of the field. We won this race last year and our goal is to capitalize and get a good result tomorrow.”
Mat Pombo topped the 14-car Touring Car (TCR) class in qualifying, breaking the previous TCR lap record by more than 1.5 seconds. Pombo’s fast lap in the No. 37 LA Honda World Racing Honda Civic FK7 TCR was 1:56.837 (109.691 mph). Tim Lewis was an eyelash slower, qualifying second in the No. 5 KMW Motorsports with TMR Engineering Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce TCR at 1:56.925 (109.608 mph). Lewis and co-driver Roy Block won last year’s TCR race at Daytona, the first of three victories for the duo in the 2022 season.
Taylor Hagler, the two-time defending TCR season champion along with co-driver Michael Lewis, qualified 10th in the No. 1 Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian Hyundai Elantra N TCR.
Pombo is a seven-time Michelin Pilot Challenge race winner and has three career pole positions, including the 2022 season finale at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta. He’ll co-drive for the full 2023 season with fellow Atlanta native Ryan Eversley.
“To have back-to-back poles and back-to-back track records is pretty cool,’’ Pombo said. “Really, today was a beautiful surprise because we’ve been focusing on the long runs, so to see we have pace on a short run and the long run really is a testament to the LA Honda World crew and how they’ve developed the car for us.
“I’m looking forward to not only tomorrow but just getting off to a good season start.’’
Also of note, NASCAR standouts Hailie Deegan and 2021 Craftsman Truck Series champion Ben Rhodes, will start eighth overall in the No. 41 PF Racing Ford Mustang.
Friday’s race will stream live on Peacock starting at 1:35 p.m. ET.