Ever since joining Murillo Racing, Kenton Koch has been on fire. That form continued Friday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course as he won his second straight IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge pole with a lap at 93.299 mph.
Unlike the practice sessions earlier on Friday, this qualifying session was very close. KohR Motorsports’ Luca Mars set the first quick lap of the session, giving the others something to shoot at. It was a lap that would have been in the top 10 in either practice session.
After Kenny Murillo beat that time, Mars bettered it to a lap at 92.232 mph. Murillo and Rennsport One’s Alexandre Premat were able to beat that lap, but just barely. With three minutes remaining in the session, Premat was fastest, but by only five-thousandths of a second over Murillo. Mars was a further two-thousandths of a second back, while Koch was fourth, less than two-hundredths of a second off pole.
On his final lap at speed, Koch was able to jump from fourth to first to take the pole. The lap is not a track record and nearly a third of a second slower than his best lap in practice, but still good enough.
Koch ended up five-hundredths of a second faster than Premat’s Porsche. Murillo will start third, followed by Mars. VOLT Racing’s Alan Brynjolfsson will start fifth. McCann Racing’s Michael McCann Jr. will start sixth, then Turner Motorsport’s Dillon Machavern. The Toyota of Riley Motorsports’ Alfredo Najri qualified eighth, then Manny Franco in the Corsa Horizon Aston Martin. TeamTGM’s Hugh Plumb rounds out the top 10.
In TCR, LA Honda World Racing unleashed Tiago Monteiro on the rest of the class. The former Jordan Formula 1 racer and FIA World Touring Car Cup veteran wasted no time putting himself at the top of the chart with a lap at 91.511 mph. The rest of the class tried, but could not knock off the veteran racer from the class pole.
Monteiro’s lap ended up being the fastest TCR lap of the weekend and 16th overall in the session. It ended up being more than a third of a second faster than Bryan Herta Autosport’s Gabby Chaves. Rory van der Steur qualified third in his Hyundai Veloster N TCR, followed by Mason Filippi in a similar Veloster for Bryan Herta Autosport (the team is using the Veloster due to Filippi’s crash at Sebring). Parker Chase will start fifth.
The Mid-Ohio 120 is scheduled to go green at 4:05 p.m. ET Saturday afternoon. The race will be streamed live on Peacock starting at 4 p.m.
About the author
Phil Allaway has three primary roles at Frontstretch. He's the manager of the site's FREE e-mail newsletter that publishes Monday-Friday and occasionally on weekends. He keeps TV broadcasters honest with weekly editions of Couch Potato Tuesday and serves as the site's Sports Car racing editor.
Outside of Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. He covers all the action on the high-banked dirt track from regular DIRTcar Modified racing to occasional visits from touring series such as the Super DIRTcar Series.