By Mark Robinson
LEXINGTON, Ohio – Ryan Hardwick was clearly eager to get behind the wheel again. Forced to miss the first two IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge races this season after sustaining a concussion in a practice crash at Daytona International Speedway in January, Hardwick collected the Motul Pole Award for Saturday’s Mid-Ohio 120 in the Grand Sport (GS) class.
Mid-Ohio 120 Qualifying Results
Hardwick toured Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in 1:27.021 (93.411 mph) in the No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport to notch his maiden Pilot Challenge pole. He and co-driver Jan Heylen will start up front, with Chris Green and Kumo Wittmer alongside in the No. 13 AWA McLaren 570S GT4.
“Man, I don’t know what to say!” Hardwick said. “First and foremost, I’ve got to thank my team. These guys have worked really hard on our car; this is two poles in a row for this car. I’ve been working really hard since my injury at Daytona, and it means a lot to be able to come back and not only be competitive but to come out on top on the pole.
“The lap, it was tough out there. There was a lot of traffic and a lot of people with different speeds, and I just seemed to be stuck behind the wrong car for a long time. I finally got just enough clean air that I was able to put one clean lap together.”
Green, subbing for Orey Fidani who remained home this weekend for the birth of his child, qualified second with a lap of 1:27.462.
In the Touring Car (TCR) class, the No. 84 Atlanta Speedwerks Honda Civic FK7 TCR made it 3-for-3 in qualifying this season. Brian Henderson won his second straight Motul Pole Award – setting a TCR track record in the process – following the same act by co-driver Robert Noaker in the season opener at Daytona.
Henderson’s best lap came with just under five minutes remaining in the 15-minute session. At 1:28.813 (91.526 mph), it held up by 0.441 seconds over Chris Miller in the No. 17 Unitronic JDC Miller MotorSports Audi RS3 LMS SEQ. Henderson broke the old Mid-Ohio record by 0.849 seconds that was set by Britt Casey Jr. in 2018.
“Really glad to hear we got the track record out there for our Sabelt Atlanta Speedwerks Honda Civic Type R race car,” Henderson said. “It was a great lap, the car felt amazing. Thanks to Atlanta Speedwerks; they’ve been working so hard all weekend trying to get the car good for us. Really happy with this result for our team, it’s our third pole in a row.”
The two-hour Mid-Ohio 120 will stream live starting at 3:30 p.m. ET Saturday on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold. IMSA Radio coverage is available on IMSA.com.