Cadillacs Qualify Fourth and Fifth for St. Petersburg Street Fight Papis and Pilgrim Primed for First Street Race in CTS-Vs ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., April 2, 2005 - The positions were the same, but the names had changed when qualifying concluded...
Cadillacs Qualify Fourth and Fifth for St. Petersburg Street Fight
Papis and Pilgrim Primed for First Street Race in CTS-Vs
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., April 2, 2005 - The positions were the same, but the names had changed when qualifying concluded for the SCCA SPEED World Challenge at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Team Cadillac's twin CTS-Vs will again start fourth and fifth on the grid in the SPEED GT division, duplicating their starting positions in the season-opening round in Sebring two weeks ago. This time, however, Max Papis edged his teammate Andy Pilgrim by .06 seconds and will start on the outside of the second row. Pilgrim will drop the clutch on the inside of the third row when the SPEED GT field makes its trademark standing start at 9:45 a.m. Sunday morning.
"Today was a very good qualifying run for us," said Papis, who will make his second appearance with Team Cadillac. "I was surprised by the speed of the top qualifier, and I was definitely not expecting that. We focused a lot on the race, and I think that's where we're going to see the strength of the CTS-V, with consistency and a good pace."
Team Cadillac is competing on a street course for the first time this weekend. St. Peterburg's 1.8-mile, 14-turn temporary circuit includes city streets, a bayside drive and a concrete runway that's part of the municipal airport.
"I love this track - it's one of the best street courses I've been to," declared Pilgrim, a veteran street racer. "It's got three really exciting turns that are absolutely a test of bravery. It's great fun every lap, and a challenge to try to go flat-out.
"We worked as hard as we could in qualifying, and to be honest, we're disappointed that there isn't a Cadillac on the front row," Pilgrim continued. "But we're in good shape for the race, and the field is very competitive at the front of the grid. Max actually had the same speed as the Dodge Viper that's starting third. That shows just close the competition is."
The black CTS-Vs drew cheers from the fans as they negotiated the tight turns around tree-lined Pioneer Park and a manicured baseball diamond.
"The performance and precision of the production CTS-V definitely carries over to the racing version here on the streets of St. Petersburg," said Karen Rafferty, marketing manager for Cadillac V-series and Cadillac motorsports. "The race is going to be a street fight. With two Porsches, a Viper and two Cadillacs starting up front, the drivers are going to be vying for a very small piece of real estate."
After balmy, humid weather for the first day of practice, overnight storms scrubbed the track and left brisk winds in their wake. With even cooler temperatures predicted for race day, the track conditions will be a question mark.
"The track was slippery today, and I think perhaps the rain settled some dust on the racing surface," Pilgrim reported. "The track will be cleaner tomorrow so I anticipate that it will have more grip. But this is a street race, and anything can happen."
Papis echoed his teammate's words: "The track was more slippery today than it was yesterday, and even with fresh tires on my car, it was sliding around a lot. I'm hoping there won't be too many yellow flags tomorrow. My goal is to put my No. 16 CTS-V on the podium for the first time. I love the enthusiasm of the fans for racing and for our Cadillacs. I don't think I've ever received as many compliments about the car I'm driving."
The second round of the SPEED World Challenge will take the green flag at 9:45 p.m. EDT on Sunday, April 3. The race will be televised on the SPEED Channel at 2 p.m. EDT on Sunday, April 10.