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Road Atlanta: Team Cadillac race report

Pilgrim Scores Crucial Win for Cadillac in Road Atlanta SPEED GT Fellows Finishes Third as Cadillac Gains Ground in Manufacturers Championship BRASELTON, Ga., Sept. 29, 2006 - Team Cadillac turned in a championship-caliber performance today in...

Pilgrim Scores Crucial Win for Cadillac in Road Atlanta SPEED GT
Fellows Finishes Third as Cadillac Gains Ground in Manufacturers Championship

BRASELTON, Ga., Sept. 29, 2006 - Team Cadillac turned in a championship-caliber performance today in the ninth round of the SCCA SPEED World Challenge GT at Road Atlanta. Andy Pilgrim scored his first victory since joining Team Cadillac and racked up nine valuable points in the manufacturers championship for the wreath and crest. Ron Fellows finished third in his Cadillac CTS- V after a wild finish that saw the Canadian racer with four tires in the grass on the last turn.

Cadillac gained ground in the race for the SPEED GT manufacturer's title with Pilgrim's victory. Cadillac cut Dodge's lead to five points and is now tied with Porsche going into the season finale in Monterey, Calif. on Oct. 22. A maximum of 10 points will be on the line at Laguna Seca Raceway - one for the pole and nine for a victory. Pilgrim moved to second in the drivers' standings, seven points behind Porsche driver Lawson Aschenbach

"I'm very happy, really thrilled," said Pilgrim after his first World Challenge win since 1996. "I was running all-out for manufacturers' points today."

Pilgrim started on the front row alongside Tommy Archer's Viper. Corvette driver Leighton Reese led at the first turn, but was penalized for jumping the start. Max Angelelli's Cadillac was then running second to Archer, with Pilgrim in third. Angelelli made a move for the lead on the second lap, going inside Archer in the fast downhill Turn 12, but spun into the tire barrier. Pilgrim pressured Archer and took the point on the seventh lap, outbraking the Viper driver into Turn 10 at the end of the long straight. He gradually built up a six-second lead over his pursuers, then conserved his tires with victory in sight.

"I got a lot of wheelspin at the start, and Max got a great start," Pilgrim reported. "Then he and Tommy got together and I was very lucky I didn't get caught up in that. Tommy was quick at the beginning, but then he started sliding around. My car was lighter than his for the first time and I was able to keep the tires under me.

"I wanted to get that lead early so I could cruise a little at the end," he explained. "I just put my head down and ran as hard as I could run."

While Pilgrim racked up the laps, Ron Fellows was engaged in a pitched battle with Archer for second place. Fellows' black Cadillac moved from sixth after the first lap to third by lap four. He made his move on Archer for second on the 14th lap, outbraking his rival going into Turn 10. Archer kept Fellows under pressure for the remaining 15 laps, and regained the second spot in the final corner, forcing Fellows into the grass as they raced side-by-side to the finish line. Archer took the runner-up position by .24 seconds.

"I thought I could hold him off, but he was able to get inside and there was nothing I could do to defend," said Fellows. "I guess it's even - he made a mistake, and I made one at the end.

"Congratulations to Andy, that's awesome for him," added the Canadian road racing ace. "Now the fight goes on to the final race."

After his encounter with the tire barrier, Angelelli nursed his battered car back to the pits. The Team Cadillac crew made quick repairs and got him back into the fray, allowing him to complete 50 percent of the laps.

"It was a great race, and very special to see Andy come through with a win in the clutch," said program manager Dave Spitzer. "Ron and Tommy had a great battle, but we knew that Archer had something left and he unleashed it on the last lap. Team Cadillac still has an uphill climb to win the manufacturers championship, but we're going into the final race with the momentum of a victory."

Cadillac general manager Jim Taylor summed up today's race: "This one had everything and was full of drama," he said. "Team Cadillac came through at the end."

-credit: gm racing

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Series PWC
Drivers Ron Fellows , Andy Pilgrim , Tommy Archer , Leighton Reese , Lawson Aschenbach , Max Angelelli