IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge: Entry List Notebook for Mid-Ohio
Wednesday, May 1, 2019

After nearly a two-month hiatus, the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge is back in action this weekend at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the third race of 2019.

A field of 37 cars will take the green flag in the Mid-Ohio 120, which can be streamed live Saturday on IMSA.tv with IMSA Radio commentary at 1:45 p.m. ET.

Before returning in 2018, the Pilot Challenge hadn’t raced at Mid-Ohio since 2013 after 13 consecutive years of competition at the 2.258-mile circuit.

So as teams and drivers head to Lexington, here’s a refresher on some of the key lines heading into this weekend.

  • Exactly half of the drivers (37) on the current Pilot Challenge entry list did not compete at Mid-Ohio last year. This makes the trip a first for all rookies in the field and for the veterans, a long overdue return not sooner than six years ago.
  • It’s even more difficult to find drivers competing this weekend who have previously won at Mid-Ohio. In the 14 years that the Pilot Challenge has raced there, no driver has recorded more than two victories. Of those drivers with two notches in the win column, there are three in the field on Saturday: Bill Auberlen, Kenny Wilden and Mat Pombo. Six drivers have one win apiece.
  • Stick around to the end of the race – Mid-Ohio is prone to close finishes. Eleven races have been decided by less than one second, including last year’s overall win collected by Kyle Marcelli and Nate Stacy in the No. 60 KohR Motorsports Ford Mustang GT4. After taking the checkered flag by .286 seconds, the closest in Mid-Ohio Pilot Challenge history, the duo will look to repeat their success in 2019.
  • After sweeping the podium in the TCR class last year, Compass Racing is stepping up to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Daytona (GTD) class with a McLaren 720S, while also keeping a McLaren GT4 in the GS class. Paul Holton will be pulling double duty this weekend and he just might be the man for the job in the McLaren 720S’ IMSA debut. Why? He and WeatherTech Championship co-driver Matt Plumb delivered the first North American victory for the McLaren GT4 in May 2017 at Circuit of The Americas. In the Pilot Challenge on Saturday, Holton will be co-driving with Kuno Wittmer, who was part of the TCR-winning lineup with Compass Racing in 2018.
  • It’s a homecoming weekend for the Honda TCR teams. L.A. Honda World Racing, Atlanta Speedwerks and HART will all be looking for a win in front of a large Honda contingent, given that several of the manufacturer’s larger plants are located in Ohio. L.A. Honda World is two-for-two so far in 2019, winning with Tom O’Gorman and Shelby Blackstock at Daytona International Speedway in January and Sebring International Raceway in March. Can one of the other Honda teams break L.A. Honda World’s momentum, yet keep the streak alive for the marque?
  • Speaking of impressing the hometown crowd, there are a few drivers looking to do that too. Chad Gilsinger from Marysville, Ohio is seeking his second victory at his home track in the No. 89 HART Honda Civic TCR after winning in the 2012 Street Tuner class. Columbus native Corey Fergus is looking to break onto the top step of the podium following two third-place finishes in the No. 69 Motorsports In Action McLaren GT4. Also from Columbus and racing in Pilot Challenge for the first time this season is Mark Kvamme in the No. 3 KMW Motorsports with TMR Engineering Alfo Romeo Giulietta. Lastly, Tom O’Gorman – from Mason, Ohio – is looking to keep up his winning ways, riding a two-race win streak in TCR with the No. 37 L.A. Honda World entry.
  • Fans are encouraged to vote on Twitter for their favorite driver in Forgeline Motorsports’ Spirit of the Race competition. Tweet @IMSARadio during the race using #ForgelineSOTR and the results will be posted after the checkered flag!

IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge action gets underway with a pair of practice sessions on Friday, one at 11:40 a.m. and the second at 4:35 p.m. Teams qualify Saturday morning at 9:45 a.m. ahead of the two-hour race at 1:45 p.m., which will be streamed live on IMSA.tv with IMSA Radio commentary.

The television broadcast of the Mid-Ohio 120 will air on Sunday, May 12 at 12 a.m. ET on NBCSN.

To keep up with Pilot Challenge news and updates throughout the weekend, visit IMSA.com or join the conversation on social media using the hashtags #IMPC and #IMSAatMO.  

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