Matt Bell (GS) and Justin Piscitell (ST) have secured the class poles, both with new track records, for Friday’s Microsoft Visual Studio 150, Round 2 of the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge season at Sebring International Raceway.
Bell’s pole in the No. 9 Stevenson Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro Z/28.R comes after the car led both practice sessions on Wednesday. He most recently scored the pole at Indianapolis last July.
Bell’s best lap of 2:15.846 exceeded the pole time set by Trent Hindman a year ago of 2:15.947. He will co-drive with Lawson Aschenbach on Friday.
“The setup on the car was exactly what I needed,” Bell said. “They did a phenomenal job listening to Lawson Aschenbach and I, making sure that we did exactly what we needed to do in qualifying.
“We did some mock qualifying stuff to basically make sure that the cars had a proper set up for two laps, and we spent the rest of the time making sure our car would last over a long stint.”
Stevenson swept the front row with 2014 Sebring winners Robin Liddell and Andrew Davis second in the No. 6 Camaro Z/28.R, at 2:16.353.
Billy Johnson took the No. 15 Multimatic Motorsports Ford Mustang Boss 302R into third at 2:16.542.
Brad Jaeger was fourth in the No. 14 Doran Racing Nissan 370Z with Hugh Plumb fifth in the No. 13 Rum Bum Racing Porsche 911. Plumb and brother Matt Plumb look to go two-for-two to start the season after winning at Daytona.
In ST, Piscitell went from the couch to the pole for the second straight race, in a second different team and car.
Called upon to fill in for Devin Jones in the No. 34 Alara Racing Mazda MX-5, Piscitell laid down a new track record of 2:23.900 – a full six tenths quicker than Chad Gilsinger’s pole time a year ago of 2:24.508 – to take the pole.
“The Cayman is very comfortable over the bumps, with good throttle down stability,” Piscitell said. “In the MX-5, the wheelbase is so short you’re really working hard – it almost makes your arms and chest tired!
“There’s a lot of corners here that require a lot of rolling speed. Since it has such a shorter wheelbase, it rotates extremely well. I’m super happy to be back in a Mazda, since it’s where I got my start.”
Piscitell co-drives with Christian Szymczak this weekend, after he co-drove with Eric Foss in the No. 56 Murillo Racing Porsche Cayman at Daytona.
Adam Isman, who will share with Jon Miller, took the No. 18 Rennsport One Porsche Cayman into second on the grid at 2:24.655. Foss’s regular co-driver Jeff Mosing qualified third at 2:24.695.
Chad McCumbee, in the No. 5 CJ Wilson Racing Mazda MX-5 and Jeff Segal, in the No. 43 Team Sahlen Porsche Cayman, completed the top five.
The pair of debuting entries, the No. 37 LAP Motorsports MINI JCW and No. 75 Compass360 Racing Audi S3, clocked in 20th and 21st in ST, with both times in the 2:28 bracket. Each team has a second new car entered as well.
Rennsport One’s No. 17 Porsche Cayman of Spencer Pumpelly and Luis Rodriguez Jr. did not set a lap in qualifying, owing to ongoing engine issues that have sidelined the team this week.
Friday’s Round 2 of the Continental Tire Challenge season goes green at 1:05 p.m. ET and local time, and will be broadcast live on IMSA.com.