Mid-Ohio Experience Key For Skeen In IMSA Prototype Challenge Pole Run
Saturday, May 4, 2019

Mike Skeen admittedly had a lot going against him in IMSA Prototype Challenge qualifying at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Among them, the veteran driver arrived at Mid-Ohio with limited experience in the series’ LMP3 prototypes and didn’t get much track time Friday before a wet qualifying session Saturday at one of the most difficult tracks to drive in the wet.

But experience overcame adversity for Skeen, who leveraged his background of driving a variety of cars over the years at Mid-Ohio to click off the fastest lap in the 15-minute session at one minute, 37.612 seconds (83.276 mph) in the No. 23 Gilbert/Korthoff MotorSports Norma M30 he will co-drive Sunday with Anthony Simone. Even more impressive, the two drivers he beat for the pole were Sebring race winner Stevan McAleer and series points leader Austin McCusker.

“A little experience doesn’t hurt,” said Skeen, whose only other IMSA Prototype Challenge start in an LMP3 came at Sebring in 2018. “This is probably the most difficult track in the country when it's wet. It’s a challenge enough in the dry, but with the different pavement and sealer conditions, you really have to read it well in these changing conditions.

“I'm really happy with these guys, Gilbert Motorsports, for giving me the opportunity to run this Norma. The car was fantastic. I thought we were going to get beat out there at the end because I caught traffic as the track was improving. I was afraid they were going to nip us there at the end. I'm actually surprised that held out, but, very happy to have a good starting spot for us tomorrow. Hopefully we can make it count.”

The pole-winning lap for Skeen was 0.232 seconds quicker than runner-up McAleer, 1:37.844 (83.078 mph), who one race ago scored a breakthrough win for the Robillard Racing Norma M30 team. McCusker qualified third in the points-leading No. 47 Forty7 Motorsports Norma M30 he will co-drive Sunday with Rodrigo Pflucker with a lap of 1:37.877 (83.050 mph).

Six different teams made up the top six spots with Dakota Dickerson fourth for MLT Motorsports, Jordan Perroy fifth for ANSA Motorsports and Cameron Cassels sixth for Performance Tech Motorsports.

The championship-contending No. 4 ANSA Motorsports Ligier JS P3 of Leo Lamelas and Neil Alberico qualified ninth. The duo enters the Mid-Ohio weekend second in points, eight points behind McCusker and Pflucker.

Sunday’s one-hour, 45-minute IMSA Prototype Challenge race will be streamed live on IMSA.tv at 8:40 a.m. ET. The race also will be shown on NBCSN on Friday, May 10 at 3:30 p.m. ET.