Aschenbach Takes Sixth for Team Cadillac in Salt Lake SPEED GT Pilgrim Charges to 11th After Stop-and-Go Penalty at Start SALT LAKE CITY, May 19, 2007 - Team Cadillac fought the good fight today at Miller Motorsports Park as Lawson Aschenbach ...
Aschenbach Takes Sixth for Team Cadillac in Salt Lake SPEED GT
Pilgrim Charges to 11th After Stop-and-Go Penalty at Start
SALT LAKE CITY, May 19, 2007 - Team Cadillac fought the good fight today at Miller Motorsports Park as Lawson Aschenbach finished sixth and Andy Pilgrim 11th in the third round of the SCCA SPEED World Challenge GT series. Aschenbach held position throughout the 14-lap race on the 4.5-mile circuit, while Pilgrim rebounded from a stop-and-go penalty imposed for jumping the start.
Tommy Archer won in a Dodge Viper, leading a four-car freight train of Corvettes and Porsches to the finish line. Aschenbach started seventh, and gained a spot when points-leader Eric Curran retired with an apparent mechanical problem on the fourth lap. Aschenbach then pressured the Porsche of Michael Galati for a top-five finish, but couldn't pull off the pass.
"That was one of the hardest races I've ever run just to stay in the same spot!" said Aschenbach, the reigning SPEED GT champion. "I pushed as hard as I could to catch Galati, but he had too much midcorner speed and acceleration. All I could do was try to out-brake him."
Pilgrim started 14th on the grid after qualifying on a dusty track in the high desert. He moved a heartbeat too soon on the standing start, incurring a stop-and-go penalty that dropped him to 25th. Pilgrim then carved his way through the field, gaining 14 positions. It was an eventful race for the 2005 SPEED GT champion as he encountered spins and spinning cars.
"I had a blast!" Pilgrim exclaimed. "About halfway through the race, I got inside Tony Gaples' Corvette, but he didn't see me and turned in. I didn't want to take him out, so I turned hard inside and spun myself. Luckily it only cost me a few seconds and I was able to get back to 11th place."
Pilgrim accepted the consequences of his miscue at the start. "It was an honest mistake, totally my fault because I'm in control of the clutch," he explained. "Last year the 5-second board was in the middle of the track, and I was looking for it frantically. Then I saw something move at the side of the track, and at the moment that I saw the board, the lights came on red. My mind said, 'Go!' I know better - I've never jumped the lights in four years in the World Challenge series.
"It just seemed to be a strange weekend," Pilgrim noted. "At least we came out of here with some points, and we're all still in the game."
Pilgrim is now fourth in the drivers championship, 11 points behind leader Eric Curran. Aschenbach is sixth, 16 points out of first. Cadillac is second in the manufacturers' standings with 16 points, eight markers behind Chevrolet and four ahead of Dodge.
Despite the best efforts of the Team Cadillac drivers and crew, the Cadillac CTS-V race cars were unable to contend for the victory today as a result of series-mandated performance adjustments that put the Cadillac entries at a disadvantage to their rivals.
"We expected that the Cadillac drivers wouldn't be able to stay with the Vipers and Corvettes, and they pushed the Porsche to the fastest lap of the race," noted Steve Wesoloski, GM Road Racing Group manager. "The SCCA has a very difficult job balancing these different types of cars. It's not an easy task, but they're not quite there. We're hopeful that we'll see adjustments before Watkins Glen to even things out for all of the manufacturers in the series."
Aschenbach agreed: "We want to contend for wins, we want to run at the front, and we simply can't do that now," he explained. "It's out of our hands, unfortunately. Hopefully the series will see the light and make the Cadillacs a little more competitive."
Today's SPEED GT race will be televised tape-delayed on Sunday, May 27, at 5 p.m. EDT on the SPEED Channel. The next event for Team Cadillac is at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte, N.C., on May 24. That race will televised tape-delayed on SPEED on Saturday, June 2, at 4 p.m. EDT.
-credit: gm racing/tc