Cadillac Racing Qualifies One-Two For Long Beach Grand Prix
Johnny O'Connell, driver of the #3 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe, qualifies fastest Saturday, April 12, 2014 for Sunday's Pirelli World Challenge Cadillac Grand Prix of Long Beach
Richard Prince for Cadillac Racing
Team Cadillac drivers Johnny O'Connell and Andy Pilgrim will start first and second respectively for tomorrow's running of the Pirelli World Challenge Series Long Beach Grand Prix presented by KIA. For O'Connell it is his ninth pole position behind the wheel of the CTS.V.R.
On the first day of practice, O'Connell (Flowery Branch, Ga.) paced the 20 car GT field at the top of the time sheet with teammate Pilgrim (Boca Raton, Fla.) running in eighth. The duo had all day to work with Team Cadillac engineers to fine tune the CTS.V.Rs for today's late afternoon qualifying session. Under near perfect 65-degree temperatures and sunny conditions O'Connell posted a time of 1:20.386 good for first position on the grid. Pilgrim ran a 1:20.633 to make it an all Cadillac CTS.V.R front row for tomorrow's standing start.
"This is kind of what I was expecting this weekend," O'Connell said. "What we bring as a team is four years of experience racing on this tight track. When we pull off of the trailer we are in our sweet spot. That is really what it comes down to right now. We have a field of new cars and new competitors and I am not sure they know where their cars are at this early in the season. The experience of everyone at Team Cadillac as well as Andy and I having a lot laps around this track pays off. Sometimes you get lucky and one thing we know is what lap our tires will come in and are at their optimum. I was totally fortunate that when my tires came in I had a clear lap and even had Alex Figge in his McLaren ahead of me as a bit of a rabbit to chase and I even got a tow down the back straight from him. All of those things added up to a good lap and the pole for Cadillac. I've won here in a Corvette, but not yet in the CTS.V.R."
Pilgrim will start second alongside his teammate.
"We have talked about the guys who go out at the front of the line catching the guys at the back of the pack and that is what happened to me," Pilgrim said. "They came out of the pits slowly and I was starting on my fast laps and I had to race them a little in qualifying. The track greased up a lot since yesterday. I think all of the running today with the cars and different tires made the track a little slippery tonight. It is great that we have an all Cadillac front row for the start tomorrow. We should be good here, this is not a big downforce track."
The Pirelli World Challenge Series Grand of Long Beach presented by KIA will be a single race weekend and take the standing start on Sunday, April 13 at 4:30 p.m. PT. The race from Long Beach will be televised on NBC Sports, Sunday, April 20 at 5:30 p.m. with a re-air Friday, April 25 at 1 a.m.
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