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Charlotte: Team Cadillac qualifying report

Pilgrim Qualifies Cadillac in Top Four in Charlotte SPEED GT Aschenbach Moves to Jimmie Johnson's No. 48 Cadillac CTS-V After Mechanical Problem CONCORD, N.C., May 24, 2007 - Andy Pilgrim took the fourth spot on the grid for Team Cadillac in...

Pilgrim Qualifies Cadillac in Top Four in Charlotte SPEED GT

Aschenbach Moves to Jimmie Johnson's No. 48 Cadillac CTS-V After Mechanical Problem

CONCORD, N.C., May 24, 2007 - Andy Pilgrim took the fourth spot on the grid for Team Cadillac in qualifying today for the fourth round of the SCCA SPEED World Challenge GT at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Lawson Aschenbach qualified the team's third car that had been entered for NASCAR Nextel Cup champion Jimmie Johnson after his No. 1 Cadillac CTS-V had a mechanical problem in the morning practice session. Aschenbach subsequently qualified in the 14th position.

"Given the performance restrictions that the Cadillacs are currently racing under, we had concerns about how competitive they would be on this high-speed track," said Steve Wesoloski, GM Road Racing Group manager. "We didn't want to put Jimmie in a situation where he would not be competitive, and he did not run the No. 48 Cadillac CTS-V in the morning practice sessions. That turned out to be a blessing in disguise when Lawson's car had a mechanical issue. We were fortunate to have the third car here so that Lawson could run for championship points in qualifying.

"We're hoping that another opportunity will present itself for Jimmie to run with the team," Wesoloski continued. "He had two great tests in the Cadillac, and we're really looking forward to seeing him in a road race."

The 1.5-mile oval is modified with chicanes on the front and back straights for the SPEED GT event. Pilgrim lapped the hybrid track in 49.478 seconds (107.847 mph). Aschenbach qualified with a 50.467-second lap (105.574 mph) just minutes after the decision was made to put him in the car that had been prepared for Johnson.

Michael Galati won the pole in a Porsche 911 GT-3 with 49.293-second lap (108.088 mph). Michael McCann was second in a Dodge Viper and Randy Pobst third in a Porsche.

"Qualifying went surprisingly well, and I'm very happy to start in the top five," said Pilgrim. "We don't have the straightaway speed that some of the other cars have because of the weight and the engine restrictions that we're required to run, so I'm really delighted to come away from qualifying with a couple of points.

"The test here in March gave us a baseline, but both chicanes have been changed since the test so we had to relearn the track," Pilgrim noted. "My Cadillac is really good through the chicanes, so we're making up in the chicanes some of what we lose on the straights. That's given us a shot to run closer to the front."

Aschenbach ran a total of 16 laps in the 35-minute qualifying session as he adapted to the spare car. The crew made a series of tire pressure and suspension adjustments that helped the reigning SPEED GT champion improve his position in the session.

"It was a bit tough getting into a car that I hadn't driven before and 14th is certainly not the result we wanted," said Aschenbach. "I didn't fit well in the seat and we didn't have time to adjust the setup before qualifying. The team kept working on the car and made it better in the session, but by the time it came around, the tires were hot and pretty well used up. Now we'll have time before the race to put my setup on and my Cadillac will be fine. Team Cadillac is a great team, and they know what they're doing."

"Cadillac is honored that a racer of Jimmie Johnson's stature was going to drive one of our Cadillac CTS-V race cars," said Cadillac general manager Jim Taylor. "It's our philosophy to align Cadillac with the best of the best in everything we do. It's unfortunate that the circumstances today didn't allow him to display his tremendous capabilities in the Cadillac CTS-V race car, but we hope to see him in action at a future event."

The fourth round of the SPEED GT is scheduled to start at 8:45 p.m. EDT on Thursday, May 24. The race will be televised tape-delayed on Saturday, June 2 at 4 p.m. EDT on the SPEED Channel.

-credit: tc/gm racing

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Series PWC
Drivers Andy Pilgrim , Jimmie Johnson , Randy Pobst , Lawson Aschenbach , Michael Galati , Michael McCann