O'Connell finishes fifth, Pilgrim sixth
St. Petersburg, Fla. - Cadillac Racing drivers Johnny O'Connell and Andy Pilgrim finished the second race of the Pirelli World Challenge St. Petersburg Cadillac Grand Prix weekend in fifth and sixth this morning.
Pilgrim (Boca Raton, Fla.) had the pole for the race start. The Floridian experienced some wheel spin from the standing start and watched as five competitors raced by him into Turn One. No sooner did the race start than it was stopped on lap three for a track blocking incident. At this point in the race Pilgrim and teammate O'Connell (Flowery Branch, Ga) were classified in positions sixth and eighth.
O'Connell in fifth
When the 50-minute race restarted with 19-minutes remaining the Cadillac duo settled into their positions and circulated the 1.4-mile, 14-turn St. Pete temporary street circuit as part of the FIA GT3 parade of cars. On lap 19 Audi driver Mike Skeen and Nissan driver J.D. Davison got together and that vaulted O'Connell into fifth and Pilgrim into sixth, which is where they crossed the finish line.
"Even if I got paid by the lap I earned every dollar today," O'Connell said. "The Cadillac Racing guys have done a great job tweaking and tuning on the ATS-V.R. It was a hard race. You have every guy pushing each other so hard. Some have a pretty high level of aggression and we used that to our advantage today. We are working hard on this new car.
You have a relationship with your car. You really have to get to know her. We are still in the dating period heading to the honeymoon. I have a few rub marks on the left side. I was using every inch of the track and on that lap I needed another three-quarters of an inch. Again getting to know your car. That rub didn't affect the ATS-V.R at all. She is a tough new girl. I can use that data later in the season."
Pilgrim saw the podium start as a missed opportunity
"It is disappointing when you start on the pole and can't make the best of it," Pilgrim said. "I got some wheel spin off of the start and a lot guys got bye me. I was then in the middle of a mess in Turn One. Once we got going I made some positions back. I am happy the car came back unscathed, there are a lot of wrecked cars out there today. The ATS-V.R was really good. Once you get in a train like that, the field is so close, you have to wait for your moment to pass. Johnny and I made up a few positions when those two cars got together. The highlight of the weekend is the pole and two top ten finishes. Much better than COTA (Circuit of the America's) for me."
The Pirelli World Challenge Series will travel to Long Beach, Calif. for the Replay XD Grand Prix of Long Beach April 17-19. The St. Petersburg race broadcast will run on the CBS Sports Network Sunday, April 5, at 5 p.m. ET.