DETROIT - Team Cadillac driver Johnny O'Connell will start from the pole position for the first of two races in the Pirelli World Challenge Cadillac V-Series Challenge on Detroit's Belle Isle tomorrow.
O'Connell (Flowery Branch, Ga.) wasted little time in putting his No. 3 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe on the pole, posting his time of 1:33.592 on the second lap of the session. O'Connell won both Pirelli World Challenge GT races on Belle Isle in 2012.Teammate Pilgrim (Boca Raton, Fla.) will start his No. 8 CTS-V on the second row in fourth after putting in a qualifying time of 1:34.769. Pilgrim had a podium finish of third and a fourth place last year.
"You always need to make the most of your practice time at a street circuit," O'Connell said. "We were basically bedding in brake rotors during practice this morning and finding our way around this revised track. The practice was limited to due to a crash. We lost about 10 minutes of run time. But that is when the depth of Team Cadillac comes into play."
"My qualifying run was really good," he continued. "Based on the few laps we did this morning, my engineer and I made a few changes on the No. 3 CTS-V and we went in the right direction. I had a lot of confidence in the car and was able put it on the pole. With just a couple of laps in practice I had to rely on my laps around this track from the past. Some history paid off today."
O'Connell is ready for the possibility of rain for the race tomorrow.
"If it does rain that puts us at a disadvantage to the four-wheel drive Volvos," he continued. "We will have to overcome our grip disadvantage with the motivation of running here in GM's hometown of Detroit to make up some of that difference."
Pilgrim likes the new extended run from the exit of Turn Two to the entry of Turn Three.
"The track was dusty and dirty this morning," Pilgrim said. "I love the new section of the track. It is going to make the racing better as well as the overtaking of the GTS class cars in the race."
The Floridian likes the start to the race weekend that takes place in the shadow of GM headquarters.
"In qualifying Johnny got the pole, great for Cadillac here at our home race in Detroit," he continued. "I got a little bit off line in qualifying and I got into the dust which cost me a few tenths. We are in the top four, so I am happy."
Pilgrim echoes O'Connell on the weather forecast for Saturday's race.
"The Cadillac is very reasonable in the wet," he explained. "At Mid-Ohio last year we did well in the rain, but the Volvos, of course, will have the upper hand."
The Pirelli World Challenge Cadillac V-Series Challenge on Detroit's Belle Isle will run May 31-June 2. The races will be televised on NBC Sports, Sunday, June 16 at 5 p.m.