Andy Pilgrim propelled Cadillac to the SCCA SPEED World Challenge GT manufacturers championship with a victory today in the series` season finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Pilgrim drove his race-prepared Cadillac CTS-V to a 1.883-second margin of victory over Randy Pobst`s Porsche to capture Cadillac`s second manufacturers` title in three years.
Cadillac won the championship with 71 points to Porsche`s 60, followed by Chevrolet (50) and Dodge (24). Pilgrim finished second in the drivers championship, 16 points behind Pobst (303-287). Team Cadillac driver Lawson Aschenbach finished sixth in the race and third in the final standings with 280 points.
Pilgrim qualified second and started the 28-lap race on the outside front row alongside Pobst. Pilgrim slotted in behind his rival at the start, but the pace was soon slowed for a full-course yellow after a multi-car accident in Turn 4. When racing resumed after six laps under caution, Pilgrim patiently stalked Pobst. On the 21st circuit, Pilgrim made his move in the hairpin at the end of the front straight.
"I knew Randy would challenge me if I attempted a pass, but I also knew he had the drivers championship on the line," Pilgrim said. "Even though that wasn`t my best corner, I stuck it in there and that was it. He tried to go around the outside, but he knew he was done."
Pilgrim then fended off Pobst`s late-race charge, and increased his margin in the closing laps.
"I was going deeper and deeper into the corners, using the rear tires harder and harder," Pilgrim reported. "I nearly lost the rear end three times in the last five laps going through Turn 9, and I told myself, `Don`t spin it now!` I was really just holding on for the last six or seven laps, but Randy was sliding around as well."
While Pilgrim controlled the race at the front, his teammate Aschenbach was in a pitched four-car battle with a Porsche and a pair of Vipers. Aschenbach had moved from eighth on the starting grid to sixth with an outside move in the first turn, and he moved up to fifth on the lap 7 restart. But the 120 pounds of success ballast that Aschenbach was carrying eventually took its toll, and he lost two positions on lap 24. When the fourth-place Porsche of James Sofronas went off on the next-to-last lap, Aschenbach took sixth.
"I tried as hard as I could to get by Safronas, but he was defending his line into Turn 1 and that was about the only spot I could catch him," Aschenbach explained. "It was a tough race carrying so much REWARDS weight. Team Cadillac did a great job as always, and it was a dream come true to race with them this year."
Ron Fellows brought his Cadillac CTS-V home in seventh today. He dropped back at the restart, and then protected Aschenbach`s position in the closing laps to ensure that Cadillac would have a car among the top-six finishers to win the manufacturers championship.
"We had a bit of a handful for a few laps, but it all worked out because we were able to stay back and protect Lawson," said Fellows. "Andy had things covered at the front, and if something had happened to him, Lawson and I were sixth and seventh. It was like playing a deep back with a two touchdown lead."
Team Cadillac concluded the 2007 season with three victories (Charlotte, Atlanta and Laguna Seca) and a total of 12 wins since the team`s debut in 2004. Cadillac has won two manufacturers championship (2005, 2007) and Pilgrim captured the drivers championship in 2005.
"This is an outstanding moment for Cadillac," said Team Cadillac technical director Lynn Bishop. "To win the most races in the series over the last four years, and to win two manufacturers championships, we couldn`t be happier. The team of drivers we have is the best, and Andy Pilgrim is the consummate professional. He showed what he could do today with class and style."
"We have made a concerted effort to align Cadillac with the best of the best in everything we do," commented Cadillac general manager Jim Taylor. "In racing, aligning Team Cadillac with the best technical partners and the best drivers has proven the value of this strategy again by winning the SPEED GT manufacturers championship. We congratulate Andy Pilgrim on his victory today, and congratulate the entire team on another outstanding season.
"Cadillac has enjoyed great success in the four years we have competed in the SCCA SPEED World Challenge with the first-generation Cadillac CTS-V race cars," Taylor continued. "We`ve demonstrated the performance of the new line of Cadillac vehicles and we`ve changed the way that enthusiasts view Cadillac. With the second-generation CTS-V still a year away from its introduction, we`ll close this chapter of Cadillac in racing and explore future opportunities to showcase the performance of the Cadillac portfolio."
The season-ending Laguna Seca SPEED GT race will be televised tape-delayed on Sunday, Oct. 28, at 4 p.m. ET on the SPEED Channel.
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