Thomas Merrill captured the pole for the Trans Am presented by Pirelli TA2 season opener at Sebring International Raceway, reeling off a fast lap of 2m06.524s in the No. 81 HP Tuners/Mike Cope Race Cars Ford Mustang. Qualifying was a nail-biter throughout on the demanding south Florida circuit, and the first eight qualifiers in the 26-car field all finished up within two seconds of Californian Merrill’s best.
“We worked hard all weekend, and my whole crew did an incredible job putting the car together,” said Merrill, who captured his second-career pole in the TA2 National class, having claimed six additional TA2 poles in the Trans Am West series.
Merrill has a personal score to settle in the Sebring opener. Last year, he spun out on the final lap only a handful of turns shy of victory.
“We learned a lot from last year and, coming back to the same track, we picked up where we left off, and we just got better,” Merrill said. “It’s been a really fun start to the year.”
Former TA2 champ Rafa Matos will start on the outside of the front row, clocking a 2m07.000s in his first appearance in the No. 88 3-Dimensional Services Ford Mustang; teammate Doug Peterson will start 11th.
Misha Goikhberg was third, 2m07.180s in the No. 10 BC Race Cars Chevrolet Camaro, followed by defending TA2 champion Mike Skeen, 2m07.518s in the Liqui-Moly/Turn 145 Distribution Center Chevrolet Camaro run by Stevens-Miller. Skeen retained his 2020 TA2 track record by a mere 0.011s.
Team SLR garnered the next two positions, team owner and lead driver Scott Lagasse Jr. fifth in the No. 92 Chevrolet Camaro, one position ahead of his teammate Connor Mosack in the No. 28 Nic Taylor/FS M1-SLR/Fields Camaro.
The 27-lap (or 75-minute) TA2 race takes the green flag at 11:15 a.m. ET on Sunday. Live Streaming for the race is available exclusively on the Trans Am by Pirelli Racing App (click here to download).