Johnny O'Connell and Andy Pilgrim ready for concrete confines.
Detroit - Cadillac Racing drivers Johnny O'Connell and Andy Pilgrim are ready to take on the concrete confines of the Long Beach Grand Prix Circuit for a single Pirelli World Challenge GT race to run Sunday, April 9.
O'Connell (Flowery Branch, Ga.) and Pilgrim (Boca Raton, Fla.) are coming off of the first street race of the season in St. Petersburg, Fla. having both put in top ten finishes in the double-race weekend. The 1.968-mile, 12-turn circuit that surrounds the Long Beach Aquarium is the oldest street race in North America. Each of the Cadillac Racing duo has posted wins at Long Beach, O'Connell in 2014 and Pilgrim in 2012. Last year the pair crossed the line first and second.
I am very confident in my ATS.V.R so I'll be putting it on the edge and see where we end up.
"We have four races under our belt with the new Cadillac ATS-V.R. I'm hopeful that Long Beach will be a good event for us," O'Connell said."
With the large field, 40 cars entered for Long Beach, and only a 50-minute race O'Connell can't really plan to far ahead.
"Well, you can't really strategize for cautions," he continued. "I have to really assume that it's going to be a green race. Most important thing is to not let yourself get caught up in any incidents. No doubt qualifying this year is always going to be critical. I know that I'm going to go into the qualifying on full attack mode. Focused on putting in the perfect lap."
Pilgrim liked the ATS-V.R's set-up in St. Pete and is looking for a strong run this weekend.
"I think our new ATS-V.R will do well in Long Beach," Pilgrim said. "We had a good set-up at St. Pete in the twisty back sections and Long Beach has more of the same. I'm looking forward to some great racing. The hairpin at Long Beach is unique. It reminds me of a parking lot, but it happens to be on a race track. Coming off that corner will be a traction control fest. Whoever can best get the power down will have the best shot off the corner. Having a turbo off the hairpin will be interesting and might be a little easier to manage for the traction control. We'll see."
At St. Pete both races were marred by first lap incidents which cost valuable race time putting increased importance on qualifying up front.
"There is a lot of risk when qualifying on a street course," he continued. "You have to be inch perfect and the walls don't give. With 11 or 12 cars within half a second at St Pete, we will have to get it perfect minus a tenth at Long Beach, which will be tricky. I am very confident in my ATS.V.R so I'll be putting it on the edge and see where we end up. There is no doubt at all that qualifying will be critical. I hope we can give the great California fans a caution-free race."
The Pirelli World Challenge Series Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach race will take the standing start on Sunday, April 19 at 4:30 p.m. PT. The Long Beach race will be broadcast on CBS Sports Network Sunday, April 26 at 3:30 p.m. ET.