Team Cadillac driver O'Connell on Pole at COTA Team Cadillac driver Johnny O'Connell drove his No. 3 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe to pole position for tomorrow's first of a double race weekend at the Pirelli World Challenge Series Cadillac Sports Car Challenge at the Circuit of the America's (COTA). Teammate Andy Pilgrim will start fourth.
O'Connell (Flowery Branch, Ga.) posted a final practice time on Thursday of 1:34.816 placing him third on the GT time sheet. Taking to the new COTA circuit in 90-degree temperatures this afternoon, he managed to post a pole position time of 1:33.539. Pilgrim (Boca Raton, Fla.) had limited running on Thursday's promoter test day with car issues, missing the final practice session. Despite the limited running, the Floridian put in a lap of 1:34.092 that will have him start fourth.
"Pretty nice," O'Connell said. "I really didn't think we were going to go that fast. We made some changes to the car to make it fast over a couple of laps, and it worked. Even though we didn't test here, I have run a thousand laps in my head and about five hundred laps since yesterday. I did what I had to do to lay a lap down, and we got it done."
O'Connell liked the way the Cadillac CTS-V drove.
"This track requires the driver to be soft and smooth. My engineer said before qualifying to use slow hands. Make slow soft inputs into the car and it will reward you. We had a great qualifying car. We will have to make changes to make it a great race car."
The reigning Pirelli World Challenge GT Champion knows Turn One will be a challenge.
"I love the thought of the standing start starring up that hill," O'Connell continued. "Hopefully we have a good clean start. The tight first corner will invite a mix of stupidity and bravery. I hope that we can get everyone through Turn One clean."
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