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Road Atlanta: Team Cadillac preview

Team Cadillac Faces Weighty Matters at Road Atlanta Tire Management Is Key in Cadillac's Drive for Fourth Straight Victory at Road Atlanta BRASELTON, Ga. - An across-the-board increase in the base weights of SCCA SPEED World Challenge GT ...

Team Cadillac Faces Weighty Matters at Road Atlanta
Tire Management Is Key in Cadillac's Drive for Fourth Straight Victory at Road Atlanta

BRASELTON, Ga. - An across-the-board increase in the base weights of SCCA SPEED World Challenge GT competitors promises to put the focus on tires, brakes and chassis setups in the series' penultimate round at Road Atlanta on Friday, October 5. Combined with the REWARDS success ballast that Team Cadillac drivers have earned with high finishes in recent races, the CTS- V race cars will be heavyweight contenders on the roller coaster 2.54-mile road course where Cadillac posted three consecutive victories in 2004-06.

SCCA officials announced a 3.31 percent increase in the base weights of all GT entries after the previous round at Mosport International Raceway. Consequently the Cadillac CTS- V race cars must now weigh at least 3,254 pounds, including the driver - an increase of 104 pounds.

"The across-the-board increase in base weights was a response to the realization that some of the entries could not reach their prescribed minimum weights," explained Steve Wesoloski, GM Racing Road Racing Group manage. "More weight will increase the demands on the tires and brakes, so the Team Cadillac engineers will have to make adjustments in the chassis setups as we prepare for a crucial event in the championship.

"Team Cadillac has been very successful at Road Atlanta in the past because it's a momentum circuit that doesn't have the tight point-and-squirt corners that tend to favor the Porsches," Wesoloski noted. "But with so many high-speed turns at Road Atlanta, we are going to have to manage the tires carefully for the duration of the race."

The SPEED GT championship race couldn't be tighter going into the ninth round of the 10-race series. Cadillac holds a three-point lead over Chevrolet and a seven-point advantage over Porsche in the manufacturers' standings, while Cadillac drivers Andy Pilgrim and Lawson Aschenbach are second and third in the drivers' rankings. Pilgrim trails Porsche driver Randy Pobst by four points, and Aschenbach is just six points out of the top spot.

"The additional weight is going to make it harder on the tires, so we're going to have to be smart about our setup," said guest driver Ron Fellows, who will drive the team's third race-prepared CTS- V . "Everybody will be carrying more weight, so our job as a team is to make sure we've got cars that are going to be able to manage the tires better than our competition. Under the current rules, our cars aren't as fast on the straights as our rivals, so the Cadillac race cars will have to stop and get around the corners as quickly as possible. I definitely think our guys are up to the task."

Last year at Road Atlanta, Pilgrim scored his first victory with Team Cadillac, while Fellows finished third after a pitched battle with Tommy Archer that saw Fellows' Cadillac cross the finish line with all four tires in the grass.

"Last year was a breakthrough race with my first win with Team Cadillac, and certainly we'd like to repeat that," said Pilgrim. "The circumstances were quite different because I'd lost all of my REWARDS weight after two races where we'd had mechanical issues. I was able to capitalize on an opportunity because we were running at the minimum weight.

"I'll certainly be trying my best to repeat, but realistically we're not in the same situation as last year," Pilgrim explained. "We'll be much heavier than when we last raced at Road Atlanta, so it's going to be a different race car. Of course, everyone is going to be heavier to some extent, so we don't know how that is going to affect the relative performances over the course of the race."

Fellows has vivid memories of last year's slam-bang finish at Road Atlanta. "It was good fun," said the Canadian ace. "I was second, and I just didn't want to give up the position. I was losing rear grip and holding on for dear life. I was crossed up and sideways, and Tommy got a good run going into the final corner. I was trying to hold him off on the outside line - but then I ran out of road!"

Aschenbach had a front-row seat for the Battle of Atlanta as he finished fifth in a Porsche last year.

"We struggled with the setup, and it was tough to stay with the Cadillacs and Viper," Aschenbach recalled. "I'm definitely happy to be in a Cadillac going into Atlanta this time!"

Aschenbach is focused on a victory after four runner-up finishes this season. "I want a win," he declared. "This series rewards consistency, so four second places is great. But I really want a win, so I'll be pushing.

"I'm going to be driving the heaviest car in the series, with 80 pounds of REWARDS weight on top of the 104-pound weight adjustment, and that's going to be a hurdle to overcome," Aschenbach conceded. "But I like the track, and I know the CTS- V race car is going to work well because Team Cadillac did a great job there last year. It just comes down to concentration and focus."

The ninth round of the SPEED GT is scheduled to start at 4:45 p.m. ET on Friday, October 5. The race will be televised tape-delayed on Saturday, October 13, at 3 p.m. ET on the SPEED Channel.

-credit: gm racing/tc

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Series PWC
Drivers Andy Pilgrim , Randy Pobst , Lawson Aschenbach