Mat Pombo topped the 14-car Touring Car (TCR) class in qualifying, breaking the previous TCR lap record by more than 1.5 seconds. Pombo’s fast lap in the No. 37 LA Honda World Racing Honda Civic FK7 TCR was 1:56.837 (109.691 mph). Tim Lewis was an eyelash slower, qualifying second in the No. 5 KMW Motorsports with TMR Engineering Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce TCR at 1:56.925 (109.608 mph). Lewis and co-driver Roy Block won last year’s TCR race at Daytona, the first of three victories for the duo in the 2022 season.
Taylor Hagler, the two-time defending TCR season champion along with co-driver Michael Lewis, qualified 10th in the No. 1 Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian Hyundai Elantra N TCR.
Pombo is a seven-time Michelin Pilot Challenge race winner and has three career pole positions, including the 2022 season finale at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta. He’ll co-drive for the full 2023 season with fellow Atlanta native Ryan Eversley.
“To have back-to-back poles and back-to-back track records is pretty cool,’’ Pombo said. “Really, today was a beautiful surprise because we’ve been focusing on the long runs, so to see we have pace on a short run and the long run really is a testament to the LA Honda World crew and how they’ve developed the car for us.
“I’m looking forward to not only tomorrow but just getting off to a good season start.’’
Also of note, NASCAR standouts Hailie Deegan and 2021 Craftsman Truck Series champion Ben Rhodes, will start eighth overall in the No. 41 PF Racing Ford Mustang.
Friday’s race will stream live on Peacock starting at 1:35 p.m. ET.