By Mark Robinson
SEBRING, Fla. – Jeff Kingsley isn’t letting up in his pursuit of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama championship. The 22-year-old Canadian locked up the pole position in qualifying Thursday for the first of two races to close the season.
Kingsley laid down a lap of 2:07.216 (105.835 mph) at Sebring International Raceway’s 3.74-mile, 17-turn road course to edge championship rival Riley Dickinson by 0.098 seconds. Kingsley, who has won 10 of the 14 races this season in the No. 16 Kelly-Moss Road and Race Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car, needs only to start both races Friday and finish eighth or better in one to clinch the crown.
"Qualifying was a bit of a mixed bag," Kingsley said. "It felt super slow but we’re on pole. The car was definitely a handful out there. With this heat and lots of different rubber going down, it changed things quite a bit."
Kingsley knows he must temper his typical aggressiveness in the races and focus on bringing home the championship.
"I’ve got to play it safe, keep my nose clean, and as much as I want to win both races this weekend, I also have to look at the big picture," he said. "That says more about your career, if you have a championship title versus a race win at Sebring."
Alan Metni, points leader in the Platinum Masters class for drivers 45 and older, was the fastest qualifier in that group – and fourth overall – with a lap of 2:08.001 (105.186 mph) in the No. 99 Kelly-Moss/AM Motorsports Porsche. Richard Edge captured his first pole of the season in Gold Cup (for Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars built between 2014 and 2016) with a lap of 2:12.424 (101.673 mph) in the No. 18 ACI Motorsports Porsche.
Gold Cup points leader Curt Swearingin sat out the qualifying session. He needs only to start each race Friday to wrap up the class championship. Swearingin was also given permission to change his car number from 17 to 44 to honor his father, who was born in 1944 and passed away earlier this week.
The GT3 Cup Challenge USA races, each 45 minutes in length, are scheduled to start at 8 a.m. and 2:35 p.m. ET Friday. Both will stream live on IMSA.com.