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Pilgrim Wins Long Beach GP, O’Connell Third for Second Straight Cadillac World Challenge Twin Podium
Pilgrim leads final 22 laps for first Long Beach triumph in Round 3 of series
• Cadillac Takes Lead in Manufacturer Points with Result
• O’Connell Leads, Pilgrim Second in Driver Standings
• Pilgrim’s Victory his 11th in Series Competition, First since ‘09
LONG BEACH, Calif. – Andy Pilgrim delivered a solid victory in one of the nation’s most legendary street races on Sunday, driving his No. 8 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe past Volvo’s Randy Pobst on the ninth of 31 laps and leading the rest of the way.
“I’ve never won at Long Beach,” Pilgrim said in Victory Lane after the caution-free event. “I’ve finished second here a couple of times, but it’s very good to win it and I’m really happy to have done it.”
Pilgrim qualified second for the 31-lap Pirelli World Challenge race on the 1.968-mile street circuit and held that position on the standing start. Polesitter Pobst rocketed away by virtue of his car’s all-wheel-drive, but Pilgrim and teammate Johnny O’Connell, who started third in the No. 3 Cadillac, stayed close through the first eight laps.
On the ninth, Pilgrim edged to the inside approaching the left-hand Turn 1 and turned in before Pobst could, sliding his silver Cadillac into a lead he would never give up.
“Randy got stuck in traffic on the hairpin, and I think I surprised him a little bit,” Pilgrim said of the winning pass. “I had been studying him for the first several laps, and it seemed like he was backing up his braking point a bit. I noticed that, and I waited as late as I possibly could, the door was open and it went through.”
From there, it was a matter of managing traffic and hitting his marks, which the Englishman did with aplomb. The gap stretched from one second to five seconds at times, and it ended with Pilgrim crossing the line 6.337 seconds ahead of the 2010 series champion.
“The Cadillac ran very, very well, and it was consistent, and I think the fact that we were green the whole time helped us,” he said. “We’re very happy, Team Cadillac is very happy, and we’ll take it.”
O’Connell kept contact with the lead pair throughout the race, but had to contend with traffic and could not gain. He finished third, 10.430 seconds behind Pobst, to give Cadillac its second straight double-podium finish. O’Connell finished second and Pilgrim third in Round 2 at St. Petersburg last month.
“If you’re not going to win it, it’s nice to see your teammate disappearing into the distance,” O’Connell said. “I was chasing Randy [Pobst] and studying him, and I kept hoping for traffic, but I never got the opportunity I wanted, and I knew he wasn’t going to make a mistake.
“I’m very proud of everyone on the Cadillac team, and through engineering and hard work, they gave us good cars.”
The victory was Pilgrim’s 11th in the series and first since 2009, when he won at Road America.
It was also a good day in the points. O’Connell leads with 374 after three rounds, and Pilgrim jumped to second with 361. Lawson Aschenbach, the Round 2 winner, is third with 342. In the Manufacturer’s race, Cadillac leads Porsche, 25-20, with Volvo in third with 13.
Behind O’Connell came a bevy of Porsches, led by James Sofronas in fourth and Aschenbach in fifth. The 911s of Tommy Drissi, Dino Crescentini, Justin Marks and Steve Ott were sixth through ninth, and the Ferrari F430 of David Welch rounded out the top 10.
“It was a great day for Team Cadillac here in Long Beach, and we could not be more proud of Andy and Johnny,” said John Kraemer, Cadillac V-Series Racing and Marketing Manager. “The development of this car over the past year has been phenomenal, and our team is putting in a lot of effort toward that end.”
Round 3 of the Pirelli World Challenge Series will be broadcast on NBC Sports, Sunday, April 29 at 3-4:30 p.m. EDT.
Next up for Team Cadillac is the Utah Grand Prix at Miller Motorsports Park on April 27-28.
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