Watkins Glen: Team Cadillac race report

Aschenbach Finishes Second At Famed Watkins Glen International Raceway Pilgrim Carves Back Up Through the Field to Finish Fourth Watkins Glen, NY, June 10, 2007 - Team Cadillac went to the famed Watkins Glen International raceway, site of some...

Aschenbach Finishes Second At Famed Watkins Glen International Raceway
Pilgrim Carves Back Up Through the Field to Finish Fourth

Watkins Glen, NY, June 10, 2007 - Team Cadillac went to the famed Watkins Glen International raceway, site of some of Cadillac's earliest racing back in the 1950's, for the fifth round of the SCCA SPEED World Challenge GT. Lawson Aschenbach and Andy Pilgrim finished second and fourth respectively on the historic 3.4-mile natural road course through the rolling hills of upstate New York. The second place finish was Aschenbach's third thus far this season in the SPEED GT series with Team Cadillac after second step finishes in the first race at Sebring and most recent race at Charlotte.

"I want to reach that top step really soon" exclaimed Aschenbach after the race. "This is my third second place finish of the season and Team Cadillac is doing such a great job that the guys deserve to see me up on top of the podium."

Andy Pilgrim, starting on pole for the race, knew he'd have to get a great start to stay in front with lighter competitors surrounding him on the grid.

"I was anxious at the start of the race knowing I'd need to launch really well to have a chance to stay in the lead," explained Pilgrim. "I guess I suffered another case of Salt-Lake-itis and was so focused on trying to get a great start I jumped it a little bit. The race in Salt Lake earlier in the season was the first time I'd ever jumped a start and I guess that was still ingrained in my brain somehow. I think we'll put in place a process where my crew chief reminds me over the radio to wait for the red lights to go out before starting!"

At the end of the first lap the running order up front was Eric Curran in his Chevrolet Corvette in first, Aschenbach in his Cadillac CTS-V in second and Randy Pobst in his Porsche 911 GT-3 in third while Pilgrim had to pull his CTS-V down to the far end of the pits to receive his stop and go penalty. Shortly after Pilgrim re-entered the track at the back of the pack in 21st place, a full-course yellow flag flew after a competitor dropped oil all over the driving line on turns one and two. The field had a few laps under the full-course yellow before the race went green again on lap six.

"I really have to thank our Team Cadillac crew because the guys gave me an absolutely perfect car to race today," said Aschenbach. "The setup on my CTS-V was different than Andy had on his car, but it was working perfectly for me. When Randy Pobst got by me on lap six it was clear his Porsche was very strong for the race as well."

"I had plenty of time on the yellow laps after my stop and go penalty to beat myself up for making the mistake and then re-focus on driving as fast as I could through the field to re-gain the best results I could from the situation," reflected Pilgrim.

Pilgrim drove like a man possessed from 21st under the yellow to 17th at the end of lap six, to 12th by the end of lap eight, and up to sixth by the end of lap 12.

"Aside from the jump at the start, I'm very pleased with my drive through the field today to get back up near the front and salvage the most points I could from the race for both the manufacturers and drivers championships," said Pilgrim.

Meantime, while Pilgrim was peddling as fast as he could manage back up through the field, teammate Aschenbach had his hands full with a very fast Pobst in a very strong Porsche 911 GT-3.

"I drove as hard as I could throughout the race to try to get close to Pobst and just didn't have enough race car to even get close enough to think about a passing opportunity," Aschenbach noted. "At the restart beginning lap six we both drove wide through turn one to avoid the oil dry on the line. Pobst and I drove so wide, in fact, that I had no choice but to drive over the curbing at the exit of the corner and that knocked me back laterally into Randy's car a little bit."

By the end of lap 14, Pilgrim had piloted his Cadillac CTS-V race car all the way back up to fourth and was now faced with the daunting task of trying to catch up to Lou Giglioti in his Chevrolet Corvette. Through the latter third of the race, Pilgrim was consistently running quicker laps and making up ground on Gigliotti. Ultimately though, when the dust settled on the fifth round of the SPEED World Challenge GT series at Watkins Glen International raceway, Pilgrim didn't have either enough laps or race car for Gigliotti just as Aschenbach didn't have for Pobst.

The second place finish for Aschenbach vaulted Team Cadillac from second place in the manufacturers championship before the race up to first place with 33 points. Chevrolet now follows Cadillac in the manufacturers championship with 31 points and is, in turn, chased by Porsche with 24 and Dodge with 16 points.

Pilgrim's inspired drive through the field to get to fourth in the race was enough to keep him in first in the drivers championship with 143 points. The strong performance and win by Pobst now ratchets him up from third to second in the drivers championship with 137 points. He is then followed closely by Aschenbach with 135, Michael Galati with 116 and Tommy Archer with 115 points.

"It's a very good thing I managed to take the pole and gain the five points from that yesterday in qualifying," remarked Pilgrim. "With those extra points it's as if I finished the race second and I needed that to stay on top in the drivers championship."

Today's SPEED GT race will be televised tape-delayed on Saturday, June 30 at 4 p.m. EDT on the SPEED Channel. The next event for Team Cadillac is on the challenging Champ Car street course in Toronto, Canada, on Sunday, July 8 at 4:30pm.

-credit: gm racing/tc

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About this article
Series PWC
Drivers Andy Pilgrim , Tommy Archer , Randy Pobst , Lawson Aschenbach , Michael Galati , Eric Curran