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St. Petersburg, Fla. – Cadillac Racing drivers Johnny O’Connell and Andy Pilgrim finished the first of two races at the Pirelli World Challenge St. Petersburg Cadillac Grand Prix in fourth and seventh this morning.
Starting from his seventh place grid position, O’Connell (Flowery Branch, Ga) quickly raced into fourth position by Turn One. Before the field could circulate the 1.4-mile, 14-turn St. Pete temporary street circuit one time a full course caution flew for a crash at the start/finish line. The race restarted with just 20 minutes remaining of the 50-minute scheduled run time. Pilgrim (Boca Raton, Fla.) made the most of the green flag laps as he moved from 11th place after the failed start to a seventh place finishing position. O’Connell was able to hold his fourth place when the race was ended under yellow as a result of a second on track incident.
“It was an abbreviated run today,” O’Connell said. “The cautions worked to my advantage. We were struggling with the car a little bit. We didn’t have the grip that the other guys had. If the race had gone green all the way, tire-wise, we might have had some issues. It kind of worked to our advantage. I also didn’t get the start that we usually get with the Cadillac. I wasn’t able to quite get it hooked up like we did at Circuit of the America’s.
“I’m proud of the work everybody is doing. I’m getting everything I can out of this car. You finish fourth and you’re the tenth quickest car and I was really digging. We’ll rub on her a little bit and see what we get tomorrow. If I have a good start, then I’ll be in a position to move up in the points.”
Pilgrim will start from the pole position for tomorrow’s race based upon posting the fastest race lap today.
“We made the most of a short race,” Pilgrim said. “There was stuff banging all over the place. It was incredible to see. We were basically a line of nine, 10 or 11 cars going and then P.D. (Cunningham) dropped back behind me in 12th, then somebody spun or somebody got hit or whatever. I got past Beretta (Olivier) when he hit the wall and he was a little tentative coming out of fast kink, which I thought he might be so I took advantage. Then I couldn’t get by Davison (JD), too much power, too much coming of the corners. When I got by Beretta, I had a totally clean track. I guess that’s when the fast lap came. His car is great. You’re running in a draft of eight cars and it just pulls you along. I’m starting on the pole tomorrow and that’s a nice place to start a street race. I just hope I can get away clean when the stating lights go out.”
The St. Petersburg Cadillac Grand Prix will run Mar. 27 – 29. The races (Sat. Mar. 10 at 11:10 a.m. and Sun. Mar. 11 at 10:45 a.m.) from St. Petersburg can be streamed live at world-challenge.com. The races will be broadcast on the CBS Sports Network Sunday, April 5, at 5 p.m. ET.
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