Thomas Merrill was the fastest overall driver on Friday in Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli TA2 practice. In his first experience on a street course, Merrill reeled off a personal best time of 1m33.41s in the No. 81 HP Tuners/Mike Cope Race Cars Ford Mustang.
“I am really happy to put this Cope car on top of the sheets today,” said Merrill. “My crew has done a great job putting the car together. All we can do is do the best we can with what we have. Being P1 at the end of the practice day bodes well for the weekend, but it’s not over yet. Everyone is going to keep getting faster, and more competitive as the track conditions change.”
Rafa Matos, the 2018 TA2 Belle Isle Park street course winner, set the second-fastest time with a 1m33.528s flyer. Both Merrill and Matos set their personal best times in Practice 2, while Mike Skeen put together his fastest lap, third overall, with a fast time of 1m33.588s.
Justin Marks was just one-thousandth of a second off Skeen’s time (1m33.589s) to slot him in fourth and Adam Andretti rounded out the overall top five in the standings (1m33.678s).
Due to the large grid size, the TA2 cars will be divided into two 19-car groups for Saturday’s qualifying based on their overall best times from Friday. Group 1 qualifying starts at 11:00 a.m. Central with Group 2 at 11:15 a.m. Central.
Drivers will have a quick turn around following qualifying, taking the green for the Big Machine Vodka Spiked Cooler presents the Franklin Road Classic with Race for RP at 1:25 p.m. Central. The race will be aired later Saturday evening on CBS Sports Network at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.