Cadillac and Pilgrim Finish Fourth on the Mean Streets of St. Pete Late-Race Penalty Denies Papis Top-Five Finish ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., April 3, 2005 - The streets of downtown St. Petersburg exacted a heavy toll on SCCA SPEED World Challenge ...
Cadillac and Pilgrim Finish Fourth on the Mean Streets of St. Pete
Late-Race Penalty Denies Papis Top-Five Finish
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., April 3, 2005 - The streets of downtown St. Petersburg exacted a heavy toll on SCCA SPEED World Challenge racers today as penalties, crashes and five caution periods punctuated the 50-minute battle. Team Cadillac ace Andy Pilgrim finished fourth in the 29-lap street fight after battling back from eighth place. Max Papis was headed for a top-five finish in Team Cadillac's second CTS-V when a stop-and-go penalty for an infraction on the final restart dropped him to 13th in the box score.
"That was a really, really hard race," Pilgrim declared. "To see these cars racing side-by-side on a track like this is phenomenal.
"Guys were sliding around and I nearly got pushed into the wall," Pilgrim reported. "It's not possible for two cars to go through Turn 2 two-wide, yet we did it three times. I don't know how many times I was close to being in the middle of an incident. When things got crowded, I was careful to let the other guys sort it out, but I couldn't back off or I'd have been hit from behind."
Papis put on a driving demonstration that showed why he's known as "Mad Max." After a miscue on the start dropped him from fourth on the grid to 12th at the conclusion of the first lap, Papis muscled his sedan back to the front, passing sports cars with style. He was 10th on the sixth circuit, and gained four more positions in the next five laps. After 17 laps around the 1.8-mile temporary course, Papis' black Cadillac was running fourth. Mad Max's charge was derailed, however, when officials imposed a stop-and-go penalty for getting out of line before the final restart on Lap 25.
"We had a problem at the start," Papis explained. "After that we were making up ground, and I had a couple of very good restarts that put us up in front. It's unfortunate when an official's decision on a move that didn't gain anything on the track takes you out of contention. It's frustrating, but we obey the rules."
Papis was not the only driver penalized for a restart infraction. Polesitter Wolf Henzler also was summoned to the pits to serve a penalty.
"Team Cadillac ran as hard as we could here," Spitzer continued. "The crew, the race engineers and the drivers all did a terrific job, but currently we're not able to compete with the Vipers and Porsches on equal footing. I expect that after two races, SCCA will evaluate the relative performances of the cars in SPEED GT."
With a runner-up finish in Sebring and fourth place in St. Petersburg, Team Cadillac is ready to return to Road Atlanta for the third round of the 11-race series. The high-speed road course in Braselton, Ga., was the scene of a hard-fought victory last year by the men in black.
"We certainly won some fans for Cadillac this weekend on the streets of St. Petersburg," said Karen Rafferty, marketing manager for Cadillac V-series and Cadillac motorsports. "A fourth-place finish on a tough and demanding track like this is a testament to the great drivers we have and the great cars they have under them. In spite of the close combat today, both Cadillacs came back to the trailer in absolutely pristine condition."
The SPEED World Challenge at the St. Petersburg Grand Prix will be televised on the SPEED Channel at 2 p.m. EDT on Sunday, April 10. The next event is the Grand Prix of Atlanta in Braselton, Ga., on April 17.