Martin Puts New Ford Mustang on Pole for Continental Tire Challenge Daytona Opener

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As the sun set and chilly weather descended on Daytona International Speedway, Dean Martin heated up the asphalt with a lap that surprised even himself, given the fact that his No. 59 KohR Motorsports Ford Mustang was a late entry, and the car had some problems that required repair right up to qualifying time.

Then it was up to Martin, a sports car veteran, and he delivered. “I just went for it,” he said, coming into the tight Bus Stop chicane on his last lap “so fast I wasn’t sure I was going to come out the other side.” But that flying lap of 1 minute, 55.754 seconds was enough to give Martin the pole over fellow Mustang driver and defending champion Scott Maxwell in the Multimatic Motorsports No. 15.

Maxwell, who has a class win in the 24 Hours of Le Mans on his resume, turned a lap of 1:55.788, just 0.034 seconds behind Martin. It will be an all-Ford front row for the four-hour IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race; the BMW Endurance Challenge at Daytona.

Third was the No. 76 McLaren GT4 fielded by C360R and driven by Matt Plumb to a best lap of 1:56.360, followed by a Porsche Cayman GT4, two more McLarens and an Aston Martin Vantage.

The cars in the Grand Sport, or GS class, are operating under new rules for 2017 that make cars built to global GT4 specifications legal, used by multiple series worldwide. This has generated a lot of excitement in the class, and a lot of entries – 20 in GS, and 20 in the Street Tuner, or ST class.

In ST, Connor Bloum put the No. 18 RS1 Porsche Cayman on the pole with a lap of 2:04.900 – impressive since he has never driven in Continental Tire Challenge qualifying. “I owe it all to the guys at RS1,” he said. “My first time qualifying I the series, and it couldn’t have gone better.”

The four-hour race is the lengthiest one the series has run at Daytona. “It’s going to be a long race,” Bloum said. “You’ve got to survive. Whoever is there at the end of the race will have a fighting chance.”

Second in the 20-car ST field was Pierre Kleinubing in the No. 75 C360R Audi S3 with a lap of 2:05.398, followed by Derek Jones in the No. 73 Mini JCW, with a lap of 2:05.794.

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