Team Cadillac Races for Two Championships in SPEED GT Season Finale Cadillac and Pilgrim Aim for Consecutive Titles at Laguna Seca Raceway MONTEREY, Calif. - Team Cadillac's strategy for the season finale of the SCCA SPEED World Challenge GT is...
Team Cadillac Races for Two Championships in SPEED GT Season Finale
Cadillac and Pilgrim Aim for Consecutive Titles at Laguna Seca Raceway
MONTEREY, Calif. - Team Cadillac's strategy for the season finale of the SCCA SPEED World Challenge GT is simple: Just win, baby!
After nine rounds of the production-based road racing series, Cadillac's bid for back-to-back SPEED GT manufacturers and drivers championships will be decided in a 50-minute shootout at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on Sunday, Oct. 22. Team Cadillac goes into the decisive race trailing Dodge by five points and tied with Porsche in the manufacturers' standings. Defending driver champion Andy Pilgrim is second in the championship chase, seven points behind Porsche's Lawson Aschenbach.
Team Cadillac and Pilgrim have momentum on their side following a victory in the preceding race at Road Atlanta on Sept. 29. Pilgrim will be joined on the Team Cadillac roster at Laguna Seca by Max Angelelli in the No. 12 CTS- V and Johnny O'Connell in the No. 16 CTS- V .
"There is only one strategy - win!" Pilgrim declared. "I can still win the championship, but I can't get it by just driving around. I've got to go for the victory, just like I did at Road Atlanta.
"My mindset is the same as it was in the last race," he revealed. "I always run flat-out, but now I've got to get absolutely everything out of the car and myself that I possibly can. If I win the race but lose the championship, so be it. I'll have given it my best."
Last year at Laguna Seca a 1-2-4 finish by Team Cadillac drivers Max Papis, Angelelli and Pilgrim vaulted Cadillac from second to first in the manufacturers championship and propelled Pilgrim to the drivers' title. With a maximum of 10 manufacturer points and 37 driver points on the table in the season finale, this year's championship scenarios are complex.
"Our goals are to win the pole and to win the race," explained Team Cadillac program manager Dave Spitzer. "If we achieve those results, we'll have done all that we can to win the championship. After that it comes down to luck and our rivals' finishing positions."
Team Cadillac could have an unexpected ally in its championship quest: the SCCA REWARDS System. The series' rules will allow Angelelli's race car to go to the starting grid at 100 pounds under the Cadillac CTS- V base weight of 3150 pounds after two mid-pack finishes. O'Connell will have zero REWARDS weight, while Pilgrim will carry a 40-pound handicap following his victory in Georgia - a significant improvement over the 210 pounds of success ballast he carried last year at Laguna Seca.
"Racing at 3,050 pounds, Max's CTS- V will be the lightest Cadillac that's competed in the World Challenge since March 2004," Spitzer explained. "All three Team Cadillac drivers are fast at Laguna Seca, so with some good fortune, we have a realistic shot at the title."
O'Connell relishes the opportunity to have a front-row seat for the championship fight. He'll be doing double-duty at Laguna Seca as he is also slated to drive with his Corvette Racing teammate Ron Fellows in the four-hour American Le Mans Series race on Saturday. In previous appearances with Team Cadillac, O'Connell finished second in St. Petersburg, Fla., and fourth in Sonoma, Calif.
"My role is to help Cadillac win the manufacturers championship," said O'Connell, "and if I can play a part in helping Andy win the driver's championship, I'm happy to do that. I've raced at Laguna Seca since 1984 and always had great success there, so I'm optimistic that we're going to do well. I'm hoping for a 1-2-3 finish for Team Cadillac, but I expect that our competition has other plans."
The wildcard in the championship is a new surface on the 11-turn, 2.238-mile road course.
"No one knows what the grip level is going to be, so that means a lot of changes to setups," Spitzer observed. "The fact is that Team Cadillac loves bumpy tracks because we have a great damper program. But we won't really know how well the track suits our CTS- V race cars until the first test session."
Despite all the variables and unknowns that surround the final race of the year, Pilgrim has a clear view of the situation: "I'll do my absolute best and not worry about anyone else." That's sage advice from a champion.
-credit: gm racing