Pilgrim and Pobst race K-PAX Volvo S60s to 1-2 SPEED GT finish in New Jersey Millville, New Jersey (May 2, 2009): Andy Pilgrim and Randy Pobst and their all-wheel-drive K-PAX/3R Racing Volvo S60s were the perfect storm at Thunderbolt Raceway...
Pilgrim and Pobst race K-PAX Volvo S60s to 1-2 SPEED GT finish in New Jersey
Millville, New Jersey (May 2, 2009): Andy Pilgrim and Randy Pobst and their all-wheel-drive K-PAX/3R Racing Volvo S60s were the perfect storm at Thunderbolt Raceway in Millville New Jersey as they started in P1 and P2 and finished in that same order for Round 3 of the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT Championships.
"It was a great day for K-PAX Racing and Volvo," said a happy Andy Pilgrim who scored his 8th career World Challenge win today. "About 50 to 60 Volvo people came to the race today and that is really cool. I have been involved with a lot of factory backed racing programs and when it comes to the development of new race cars these K-PAX/3R Racing guys are as good as anybody in the business."
"This is the culmination of two and a-half years of hard work," said Randy Pobst who scored his 50th career World Challenge Podium finish. "And I couldn't be happier for the K-PAX team, 3R Racing, team owner Jim Haughey and of course Volvo. This is a great day for us."
"It was a good day," said Bob Raub of 3R Racing. "Obviously the bad weather played right into our hands today. The rain really helped Randy get back up front, and that yellow allowed him to jump right into second."
"This is definitely our day," said Jim Haughey of K-PAX Racing. "The K-PAX Volvos one-two I couldn't be happier and it couldn't have happened at a better time because this is like a home win for us. We brought the cars to Volvo North America in New Jersey on Tuesday and gave everyone a chance to see the cars and meet the drivers and a lot of them came out today to see us race and win. It couldn't have worked out better.
"Our Volvo cars are coming on a little bit and the weather today certainly helped us a lot. We have had more than our share of problems but it looks like we are turning that around. But I felt that we could do that with the drivers we have and these great Volvo cars and the 3R team behind them."
The World Challenge GT cars took their traditional standing start under threatening skies and when the starting lights went out Randy Pobst and Andy Pilgrim launched their all-wheel-drive Volvo S60s off the starting grid and through turn one with Pobst taking a slim lead over pole winner Pilgrim.
Unfortunately Randy Pobst, of Gainesville Georgia, was a bit over eager and his #1 K-PAX/3R Racing Volvo S60 slipped off the starting line a few feet early which resulted in a stop and go penalty that Pobst served at the end of lap 2.
"I was trying to keep the clutch real close to the engagement point," said Pobst of his false start. "I just twitched my foot when the lights came on and it was enough to move the car forward. The whole time that thing was rolling; I knew I was going to get a black flag and have a stop and go."
When Pobst pitted Andy Pilgrim, of Boca Raton Florida, assumed the lead in the #8 K-PAX/3R Racing Volvo S60 and by the time Randy returned to the racing action K-PAX had Volvos at each end of the World Challenge GT field.
As the early laps unfolded Pilgrim maintained a healthy lead and a 3 to 5 second gap over Brandon Davis in 2nd while Pobst strapped his belts tight and set about trying to make up for his early start.
"Early on, the first lap was like the qualifying lap, and my K-PAX Volvo was absolutely hooked up," said Pilgrim of his early race lead. "And, just like in qualifying, when I did the second lap, I lost a second and a half. We set up the car so that it rotated pretty violently with cold tires - that was very fast for qualifying. For the race, we weren't sure what to do because we did not know if it was going to rain. I had a great first lap and that was it."
That was enough, as after his 2nd race lap of 1:24.944, which was the fastest in the race, Pilgrim settled in to maintain his lead over Davis.
"After that, she pushed quite a bit," Pilgrim said. "I tried to maintain a pace and I didn't scrub the front tires too badly."
Meanwhile Pobst was moving smartly up as he was 9th by lap five and had the #1 K-PAX Volvo on the move but he was over 20 seconds behind the leaders and had no hope of catching them without some help.
Help first came in the form of light rain which gave Pobst and his all-wheel-drive Volvo S60 a greater edge on the rest of the field but this still wouldn't be enough.
As the race continued the rain intensified and this brought a full course caution which made actually race leader Andy Pilgrim happy and made his team mate Pobst ecstatic.
"I tried to maintain a pace and I didn't scrub the front tires too badly," said Pilgrim. "I obviously knew where Brandon [Davis in 2nd position] was. Sometimes he'd catch me if I was a bit too easy on it. To gap him, I had to really push it on the front tires. So, to be honest, I was actually glad when the yellow came out. The rain was a huge bonus when the rain came out. Obviously, with four-wheel drive, we have a huge advantage."
"After stopping, the focus became driving the best I could," said Pobst. "I knew that without a yellow or maybe if started raining, I would never be able to catch back up. I got both of those good breaks. So, for me, it was a very lucky day."
When the race went back to green Andy Pilgrim held the lead as was able to open up a gap over Davis' Mustang in 2nd. But because of the caution Pilgrim had a new competitor to worry about in the form of his team mate Randy Pobst.
Pobst used the all-wheel-drive in his Volvo S60 to great advantage and launched past Eric Curran's Corvette on the restart and drove around Davis for the second spot a few turns later.
"At the end, I saw Randy come back up to fifth," Pilgrim said of the final laps. "I thought he was going to get by those other guys pretty quick because it is slippery right now. And, sure enough he was coming. As it dried out, I pushed it harder and harder and he was right there. He didn't do any dive bomb moves on me thank goodness."
"I had a chance to catch Andy at the end, but he was just too strong," said Pobst. "Besides that you don't do something foolish on a wet track when your team is running 1-2."
The win and pole position by Andy Pilgrim moved him up to 5th in the World Challenge GT Drivers' Championship Standings with 274. Defending GT champion Randy Pobst is now in 7th with 195. Eric Curran leads the championship with 307 points.
The win now has Volvo 4th in the Manufacturers' title chase with 12 points. Porsche leads with 20 and Ford and Chevrolet are tied for 2nd with 15.
Next up for the K-PAX/3R Racing Volvos of Randy Pobst and Andy Pilgrim will be Round Four of the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT Championships will on May 15-17 2009 at Mosport International Raceway in Bowmanville Ontario Canada.