O'Connell leads GT points, Pilgrim fourth
Cadillac Racing drivers Johnny O'Connell and Andy Pilgrim (in photo) are ready to return to Road America for rounds seven and eight of the Pirelli World Challenge Series. O'Connell leads the GT standings and teammate Andy Pilgrim is fourth.
The World Challenge Series is returning to the four-mile, 14-turn natural terrain road course located 30-minutes north of Milwaukee in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, after a five year absence. O'Connell (Flowery Branch, Ga.), like many drivers, counts Road America as one of his favorites in North America as does Andy Pilgrim (Boca Raton, Fla.). O'Connell comes into the weekend on a roll after winning both races in Detroit just three weeks ago, giving him three wins on the season as he tries to add a third World Challenge title to his resume.
The Georgia based driver likes the speed of the Road America circuit and has a lot of history at the track for known for its Bratwurst.
"Road America is long and very fast," O'Connell said. "For a driver it is one of the great natural terrain road courses in this country that you always are glad to see on the schedule. My first taste of the four-mile track was in a Super Vee in 1986."
"I fear this will be even more challenging than the Barber event for our Cadillac Racing team," he continued. "The downforce that the GT3 cars can generate should really be apparent in the fast sweeping turns, especially through the Carousel that leads onto the long back straight. Andy and I will have to use our experience racing there as well some race craft to be in a position to take every advantage of every position this weekend. I may have to sneak a Brat or two for lunch."
Pilgrim also has a lot of racing miles at Road America. The Floridian had an up-and-down weekend at Detroit, being classified 17th in the first race, but came back to finish second on the next day.
"Road America is my favorite race track in North America," Pilgrim said. "It feels like you're actually racing on country roads, something that all of us think about when we see great roads. Part of me half expects a police officer to pop out from behind a tree and start chasing me. The long straights, fast sweeping corners like the Kink and the awesome Carousel seal the deal for me, making Road America my number one road racing course. My first memory of racing at Road America was in the 1986 Firestone Firehawk race with about 120 cars on the track and having an amazing time in my Pontiac Trans Am. My favorite win there was in 2001 when Kelly Collins and myself won the five hour GT1 race in the factory Corvette. I think Road America will be a place where the FIA GT3 cars will be really good. There are many places where a lighter car with more downforce and bigger tires should have an advantage. Detroit was an obvious place where our Cadillac was very good, Road America will certainly be this way for the FIA cars, but we'll be pushing to the max at 110% to make sure they earn it."
The Pirelli World Challenge Series will travel to Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin June 19-21 for a double race weekend with the NASCAR Nationwide Series. The race will be televised on NBC Sports, Friday, July 4 at 6:30 p.m. ET.
Kyle Chura Associates