Andy Pilgrim drives K-PAX Volvo S60 to SPEED GT win at Road Atlanta Randy Pobst suffers drive line problems and retires from the race early Braselton, Georgia (September 24, 2009): Randy Pobst and Andy Pilgrim qualified their K-PAX/3R Racing...
Andy Pilgrim drives K-PAX Volvo S60 to SPEED GT win at Road Atlanta
Randy Pobst suffers drive line problems and retires from the race early
Braselton, Georgia (September 24, 2009): Randy Pobst and Andy Pilgrim qualified their K-PAX/3R Racing Volvo S60's first and second but started the Toyo Tires Road Atlanta Grand Prix Presented by Dish Network in 5th and 4th due to the inverted start. Starting on the second row didn't hinder Andy Pilgrim as he blew past the front row at the start on his way to his 2nd win of the season. Unfortunately the race didn't work out as well Randy Pobst.
The starting start that began Round 9 of the SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT Championships so differing results for Pilgrim and Pobst as Andy launched the #8 K-PAX Volvo from the second row blasting into a lead he would never relinquish. Unfortunately for Pobst his start caused a drive line problem that ended his day only 3 laps into the race.
"My crew did a brilliant job working on my car, never gave up hope and we got in a good qualifying lap, ran it hard in the race and here we are [in the winner's circle]," said Pilgrim with a smile. "Thanks to Jim Haughey, thanks to Bob Raub and the whole team and of course Volvo. This S60 is the real deal!"
"I am really, really happy for Andy and the team for getting the win today," said Randy Pobst who was all smiles despite his early exit from the race. "They really earned it. We had the Volvo all-wheel-drive working for us and I think that was an advantage in these hot, hot conditions."
"It was a good race for us," said Jim Haughey of K-PAX racing. "We had the field covered, first and last place!"
"I feel sorry for Randy, he would have been right there with me had he not had that problem," said Pilgrim.
Andy Pilgrim, of Boca Raton Florida, scored his 9th career World Challenge win and second of the 2009 season as he blasted the #8 K-PAX Volvo S60 off the second row of the starting grid taking a lead into turn one as he moved past the front row so quickly they looked to be standing still. In part they had, as both suffered poor starts.
"The start was just how the Volvo should go," Pilgrim said. "I had just enough room to get by Eric [Curran] without dropping my tires on the left side. Eric didn't move. Randy broke something on his start and I got a great launch, my start was insane, but I think it was magnified by Eric [Curran, who started 2nd] not getting a good launch and Brandon [Davis, who started 1st] not being in the right gear. It must have looked like we were hit by a rocket. I don't think I would have had that kind of lead going into turn one on a normal start.
"This was the first time we got the launch to work the way it should work. We got a great launch in New Jersey but SCCA added 300 pounds to our cars and it gave us too much weight and too much grip. It was hard to get our cars to launch properly after that."
"I was down in turn one for the start and when I saw Andy come off the grid I was sure he had jumped the start and I thought 'oh, no'," said Jim Haughey of Pilgrim's great start. "But Andy got a great launch and when the launch on our all-wheel-drive Volvos works it really works well and today it worked. That makes up for losing the front row due to the coin toss."
In the early laps series points leader Brandon Davis took a run at Pilgrim but could not maintain the pace Pilgrim was laying down in his K-PAX Volvo S60 and began fading back. At that point Andy held a comfortable 3 second lead but Eric Curran, recovering from a poor start, soon passed Davis and began eating away at the lead.
"In the beginning, Brandon [Davis] was there and closing on me," said Pilgrim of the opening laps. "I was running as fast as I wanted in the beginning but I kept running faster as he [Davis] was coming. At first I didn't see Eric but then I could see him so I asked my crew to give me a gap on Curran.
"Brandon didn't seem to be coming that hard any more but Eric [Curran] was closing on Davis and got past him and he kept on coming. The gap was like 2.4 [seconds], 1.9, 1.7 and then 1.4 and the crew was saying 'he is coming' and I said 'ok, but I can't go any faster'.
"Like Eric said he had to run very hard in the beginning of the race and I think if he had gotten a good start and been in 2nd or 3rd in the beginning he would have been there a lot longer. By then his tires were gone and thank goodness because mine were toast."
With Curran's threat fading Andy Pilgrim cruised his #8 K-PAX Volvo S60 home for his second win of 2009. It was a strong way to end a race weekend that started so very poorly.
"On every one of the teams in World Challenge are great guys and they work hard and the K-PAX/3R guys are just as good as any of the guys here," said Pilgrim. "This was one of those weekends where they really had to bust their rear-ends. My car had the gremlins all weekend.
"I know the track pretty well and I can crank up a lap without too much practice but it was a very infuriating weekend up to the race. Luckily we got enough laps in during qualifying to get a setup for the race."
Randy Pobst, of Gainesville Georgia, didn't really get to race much on his home track of Road Atlanta today but he was upbeat and optimistic about the future and the 3rd win of the season for the K-PAX Volvo S60s.
"I don't know what broke, but something did, right at the drop of the clutch," Randy Pobst said of the mechanical problem that ended his race all too early. "I tried to go one lap keeping it in 5th gear to see if I could soldier on, but there were a lot of bad noises and it was leaking oil so I brought it in.
"I had high hopes for my K-PAX Volvo today because we qualified on the pole, the car felt great in practice and I'm loving this track but it just wasn't to be today.
"I ran almost all of practice where as Andy had mechanical issues and didn't get much practice at all. Maybe that helped him. I don't know. What I do know is what the K-PAX/3R guys aren't going to give up until they have our cars working perfectly. I know that this season has probably been more frustrating for them than it has for me."
Andy Pilgrim's win moved him into 4th in the Drivers' Championship with 771 points to series leader Davis's 919. Randy Pobst's troubles dropped him to 6th with 696 points. The win moved Volvo into 3rd position in the Manufacturers' Championship Presented by Racer Magazine with 41 points. Porsche leads with 58 points followed by Ford with 49.
The K-PAX/3R Racing Volvo S60s of Randy Pobst and Andy Pilgrim will conclude the 2009 SCCA Pro Racing SPEED World Challenge GT Championships in Round 10 at Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca on Sunday October 11th 2009 at 2:45 PM Pacific Time.