Team Cadillac Posts 1-2 Finish in Charlotte SPEED GT Pilgrim Takes Charge on Oval, Aschenbach Drives from 13th to Second CONCORD, N.C., May 24, 2007 - Team Cadillac went to the heart of stock car country for the fourth round of the SCCA SPEED ...
Team Cadillac Posts 1-2 Finish in Charlotte SPEED GT
Pilgrim Takes Charge on Oval, Aschenbach Drives from 13th to Second
CONCORD, N.C., May 24, 2007 - Team Cadillac went to the heart of stock car country for the fourth round of the SCCA SPEED World Challenge GT and came away with a 1-2 finish. Andy Pilgrim and Lawson Aschenbach finished first and second respectively on the modified oval at Lowe's Motor Speedway. The win was Pilgrim's second victory in the SPEED GT series with Team Cadillac, and the fifth 1-2 finish for the black Cadillac CTS-V race cars.
"I'm thrilled - when it's your day, it's your day!" exclaimed Pilgrim after celebrating his victory with donuts and a smoky burnout on the front straight. "Some of the fast guys blew up or crashed, but we'll take a win any way we can get it."
"For us to go from 13th to second and get a 1-2 finish for Cadillac is something special," said Aschenbach. "There's nothing better than a great result for Team Cadillac in front of all these NASCAR fans."
Aschenbach drove the team's third Cadillac that had been originally entered for NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson after his own car had a mechanical problem in practice. "I can't thank Jimmie enough for letting me borrow his car," he laughed. "This result is a tribute to Team Cadillac and the great engineers and staff we have. I couldn't be happier for the team."
The race was run in two 20-minute segments. Pilgrim qualified fourth and started third in the first segment after Michael McCann's Viper was withdrawn. He was running third behind the Porsches of pole-winner Michael Galati and Randy Pobst, and then moved to second when Galati spun in the chicane on the back straight.
"Galati had a problem, and we avoided a lot of stuff in the back chicane," Pilgrim reported. "It was a question of not panicking when people spun out back there. It was a miracle that I was able to get through."
Aschenbach started 13th and gained seven positions on the first lap. He pulled off an inside pass on NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne to take fifth on a restart, and finished the segment in third when Galati spun and the Corvette of Lou Gigliotti slowed with an apparent mechanical problem.
"I had a great start, went down the inside and was able to outbrake a bunch of cars in the first chicane and gain some positions," Aschenbach noted. "Then I was lucky and got through the second chicane with cars going everywhere."
A spin of the "Wheel of Inversion" during the intermission determined that the first two cars would be inverted for the start of the second session. Fortune smiled on Pilgrim as he started on the inside front row for the double-file rolling start. He held off Pobst in the first chicane, and then relentlessly increased his lead through the remainder of the 45-lap race, winning by 11.558 seconds.
"Randy is a very fair racer and I thought that if I gave him room on the inside, he'd be tight and I would be able to get a run on the outside," Pilgrim recalled. "I knew he wouldn't take me out, and I'd accelerate faster on the outside. That was a planned move, and it worked."
As Pilgrim opened a gap on his pursuers, Aschenbach came under pressure from Galati. Then the Porsche driver hit the tire barrier in the second chicane, damaging his front suspension. With no pressure from behind, Aschenbach reeled in Pobst to take the second spot on the podium.
"At the end of the race it looked like he was having a problem getting up to speed on the straightaway, and I knew I had to capitalize," Aschenbach said.
Pilgrim's victory vaulted him to first in the drivers championship with 112 points, 12 ahead of his teammate Aschenbach. Cadillac now leads the manufacturers championship with 25 points, one point ahead of Chevrolet and 10 points ahead of Dodge and Porsche.
"We came here in March and tested with Jimmie Johnson, and he taught us a lot about what we could do to make these cars fast on this track," said Team Cadillac technical director Lynn Bishop. "We have to thank Jimmie for being a part of this win tonight.
"The team did an outstanding job, with Lawson having to switch cars just before qualifying," Bishop continued. "These guys got the third car ready for him and got him qualified. We knew that these Cadillacs would be bulletproof in the race. To get a victory for Cadillac in our first race here in Charlotte in front of all these fans was just a great experience."
Today's SPEED GT race will be televised tape-delayed on Saturday, June 2 at 4 p.m. EDT on the SPEED Channel. The next event for Team Cadillac is at Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, N.Y., on Sunday, June 10. That race will televised tape-delayed on SPEED on Saturday, June 23, at 3 p.m. EDT.
-credit: tc/gm racing