SEBRING, Fla. – Trent Hindman took care of the first part of business Thursday at Sebring Int’l Raceway, capturing the pole position for Friday’s Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge debut at the challenging 3.74-mile circuit.
Hindman turned a lap of 2 minutes, 15.947 seconds (99.039 mph) in the No. 46 BMW M3 co-driven by Fall-Line Motorsports teammate John Edwards.
“The hard part is still to come,” said the 18-year-old New Jersey resident who joined Fall-Line for the final five races of the 2013 season. “Now we’ve got to try to keep the car together for two-and-a-half hours.”
The pair finished second behind Fall-Line teammates Ashley Freiberg and Shelby Blackstock in the season-opening BMW Performance 200 at Daytona Int’l Speedway. The Daytona winners will start sixth on Friday.
The second race of the 2014 season begins at 1 p.m. Friday.
“This was a bit more nerve-wracking than my other pole,” said Hindman, who became the youngest pole winner in series history at Lime Rock Park in the 2013 season finale. “Lime Rock was more luck than anything, but this pole was the result of total team effort. We worked 100 percent during the test here last month and earlier this week. I was just the lucky one to be able to drive a car that good.”
Qualifying second in Grand Sport (GS) with a lap of 2:16.165 (98.880 mph) was Eric Curran in the No. 01 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28.R co-driven by Lawson Aschenbach for CKS Autosport.
“I’ll take it, because this is only the second race for our new Team Chevy Camaro Z/28.R,” said Curran, a 14-time winner in Continental Tire Challenge competition. “It was a crazy lap. I dropped two wheels off in two different corners, but I kept my foot in it.”
Billy Johnson made a rare appearance in qualifying, clocking in third-fastest with a lap of 2:16.400 (98.710 mph) in the No. 158 Ford Mustang Boss 302 R.
“I haven’t qualified in about six years, and it was neat to be in the car for our first series race at Sebring,” said Johnson, who will co-drive with Multimatic Motorsports/Miller Racing teammate Ian James. “I had an epic draft that put us in the top three. This track is great for passing, and it’s going to be a great show for the fans. The Camaros and BMWs are obviously very strong, so we’ll see how works out for our Mustang.”
The No. 12 Porsche 911 of Bodymotion Racing which qualified seventh was moved to the rear of the GS grid when post-qualifying inspection revealed unapproved ballast.
Chad Gilsinger was quite pleased when he qualified second in Street Tuner (ST) while preparing for his first race at Sebring. He was even happier when he learned his No. 93 Honda Civic Si co-driven by HART teammate Michael Valiante was awarded the pole after penalties moved three of the top five ST qualifiers to the back of the grid.
“I wasn’t expecting this,” admitted Gilsinger after taking his third ST pole with a lap of 2 minutes, 24.508 seconds (93.171 mph). “I was really happy with second, because I didn’t think we would be up that high. This is a demanding track, especially with a front-wheel drive car, because we put a lot of demand on the tires. This isn’t how we wanted to get the pole, but of course, we’ll take it. We’ve proven we can run a real fast lap, but tire management is going to be the key, especially at a track like this. My goal is to take care of the car and stay in the top five before I turn it over to Michael. This is my first visit to Sebring. It’s a very cool track, but very challenging. Fortunately, Michael did a lot of testing here and he gave me plenty of good pointers.”
Joining Gilsinger on the front row will be Randy Pobst, who ran a lap of 2:24.629 (93.093 mph) in the No. 26 Mazda MX-5 of Freedom Autosport co-driven by Andrew Carbonell.
Daytona winners Jeff Mosing and Eric Foss will start third in the No. 56 BMW 328i of Murillo Racing/Mosing Motorcars, with Mosing running a lap of 2:25.145 (92.762 mph). Brothers Will and Wayne Nonnamaker will start fourth for Team Sahlen, qualifying at 2:25.170 (92.766 mph) in the No. 42 Porsche Cayman.
CJ Wilson Racing originally qualified first and third, but the team was penalized when post-qualifying inspection revealed non-compliant radiator ducting in both the No. 5 and No. 3 Mazda MX-5s. Also moving to the back was the No. 10 BMW 128i of Mitchum Motorsports, which had a ride height lower than the minimum and RPM over the allowable limit.