Teenager Puts KohR Mustang at Head of Field
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Teen phenom Luca Mars topped the speed chart following two IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge test sessions during the Roar Before the Rolex 24 on Friday at Daytona International Speedway. The co-driver of the No. 59 KohR Motorsports Ford Mustang GT4 along with Bob Michaelian turned a lap of 1:53.042 (113.373 mph) in the first practice on the 12-turn, 3.56-mile road course.
NASCAR standout Zane Smith recorded the fastest lap in Friday’s final action (1:53.159, 113.256 mph). Smith is teaming with fellow NASCAR driver Harrison Burton in the No. 42 PF Racing Mustang, along with James Pesek.
Burton, who drives the No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford fulltime in the NASCAR Cup Series, and Smith, driver of the No. 38 Front Row Motorsports Ford F150 and the 2022 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion, are among five fulltime NASCAR drivers competing in IMSA series over the next week. NASCAR trucks regulars Hailie Deegan and 2021 series champion Ben Rhodes are co-driving the No. 41 PF Racing Mustang in the Michelin Pilot Challenge, while defending Daytona 500 winner Austin Cindric will compete in the Rolex 24 At Daytona in the No. 51 ORECA LMP2 07 for Rick Ware Racing, which fields cars in NASCAR, IMSA and the NHRA.
Victor Gonzalez, owner/driver of the No. 99 Victor Gonzalez Racing Team Honda Civic FK7 TCR, was fastest in both sessions in the Touring Car (TCR) class. Gonzalez’s best lap came in the second practice, 1:58.004 (108.606 mph).
The Michelin Pilot Challenge test schedule calls for two more sessions on Saturday before a final one Sunday. The 2023 season opens Friday, Jan. 27 with the BMW M Endurance Challenge, a four-hour race on the same Daytona track.