Former Rookie of the Year and recipient of the 2021 Mazda Shootout Scholarship, Connor Zilisch (No. 72 BSI Racing), qualified on pole for the first round of the Whelen Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by Michelin season. Zilisch is hoping to get his first win at Daytona International Speedway.
Zilisch is racing in both the Whelen Mazda MX-5 Cup and in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in the LMP2 category. He had to jump straight out of the LMP2 car and into his MX-5 to qualify.
“I was already sweating when I got in,” Zilisch said. “Thankfully I had a really good car from BSI Racing. I’m excited and happy for Shea [Holbrook] and Nick [Chorely] and Andrew [Carbonell] and everyone behind the team. We’ve got a lot of cars, but that doesn’t take away from the quality of cars that they bring. It means a lot to be racing for them. Even though I’m doing the 24, I still wanted to come back and race with the series I love. Thanks to Classic Mazda for coming on board. It’s one of my better-looking MX-5 Cup cars, I must say.
“I’m looking forward to the race. I’m hoping to finally get a win at Daytona. Hopefully I’ll walk out of this weekend with three wins and a Rolex.”
Zilisch had drafting help from his teammate Selin Rollan (No. 87 BSI Racing/Rollan Racing) to set a pole time of 2m08.347s. Rollan qualified on the outside of the first row.
Another former Mazda Shootout scholarship winner, Aaron Jeansonne, (No. 24 JTR Motorsports Engineering) qualified third and will start alongside his teammate and reigning Mazda MX-5 Cup champion Jared Thomas (No. 96 JTR Motorsports Engineering) who qualified fourth.
The first race of the Whelen Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by Michelin season kicks of Thursday, January 24, at 4:15pm ET with live streaming on RACER.com and IMSA.com/TV. Race 2 is slated for 10:15am ET on Friday, January 25.