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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (March 11, 2018) – Blackdog Speed Shop’s Lawson Aschenbach put an exclamation point on the opening weekend of the Pirelli World Challenge season by finishing a sweep of both GTS rounds in his No. 1 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R on the streets of St. Petersburg.
The victory was the first weekend sweep for Blackdog Speed Shop since the 2014 Mid-Ohio weekend, and it marks Aschenbach’s 26th career World Challenge victory. Blackdog Speed Shop increased its record-setting tally of GTS entrant wins to 23.
The news was doubly good for the Blackdog effort with a third-place GTSA finish for Tony Gaples in the No. 11 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R. He finished 11th overall, one spot ahead of his starting position.
The race ended six minutes early when a heavy crash brought out the second full-course caution of the day with nine minutes left. With not enough time to get the accident cleared, race officials threw the red and checkered flags together a short time later.
It ended a weekend that saw Aschenbach flex his muscle in the Blackdog Camaro. He began from pole position – courtesy of the fastest lap in Saturday’s victory – and won the race to the first corner Sunday. With a lead that seldom grew to more than one second, the defending GTS Champion deftly handled the pressure from behind before and after the race’s first full-course caution at the 10-minute mark.
In the meantime, Gaples maintained his position after gaining a spot on the opening lap. As Aschenbach nailed the restart with 32 minutes left, Gaples steadily worked his way up to the bumper of the 10th-place No. 72 Mercedes. Just like Saturday, Gaples remained patient and sought an opportunity to crack the overall top-10, but the final yellow and eventual stoppage stymied those hopes.
At the front of the field, Aschenbach led wire-to-wire for his sixth career World Challenge victory at St. Petersburg and his first weekend sweep at his home track.
With the result, Aschenbach leads the GTS Driver Championship, as does Blackdog Speed Shop in the category’s Team standings. Gaples is provisionally tied for third in GTSA Driver points but is only two points from second place.
Blackdog Speed Shop’s next event is March 23-25 at Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas. It is the first GTS Sprint X event of the season. Andy Pilgrim will drive the No. 1 Camaro GT4.R with Aschenbach while Gaples reunites with former teammate and 2015 GTS Champion Michael Cooper.
LAWSON ASCHENBACH, NO. 1 BLACKDOG SPEED SHOP CHEVROLET CAMARO GT4.R: “It’s such a pleasure to race here at St. Petersburg, and I have a lot of fond memories of this place. Maybe we should have all our races here… I’d be fine with that! The fans are awesome for coming out. This is such a good event because the city embodies this event so much, and we’re happy to be a part of it.
“Thanks again to Chevrolet, Blackdog Speed Shop, Pratt Miller, Forgeline Wheels and all our partners for helping make this happen. Our Camaro GT4.R was on rails today. The start and restart were really important in staying out front. Fortunately there was a pretty good battle behind me between the Porsche and the Audi, so I had a little bit of breathing room sometimes. But they kept me honest there in the late going. I’m really happy to get a double this weekend for our team. Hopefully we can take this momentum to COTA.”
TONY GAPLES, NO. 11 BLACKDOG SPEED SHOP CHEVROLET CAMARO GT4.R: “Coming home with third and fourth from a street race with no damage is a good accomplishment. I’m pretty much satisfied with how the race weekend went for us with the No. 11 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevy Camaro GT4.R. Maybe I could have made up some overall positions in the order but it wasn’t worth putting a brand new car at risk on its first weekend. We’ll have better opportunities to gain points and positions in the championship in the next handful of events. Congratulations to the team and Lawson on sweeping the weekend. It’s hard to imagine a better start to our championship defense. On to Austin.”
Blackdog Speed Shop Facts and Figures – Pirelli World Challenge
•Winningest GTS program in PWC history – 23 victories
Two Team Championships (2013, 2017)
Four Driver Championships (2013-15, 2017)
Two Manufacturer Championships (2013, 2017)
Chevrolet Facts and Figures – Pirelli World Challenge
•Chevrolet Camaro second all-time in PWC victories by model (51).
•Chevrolet first all-time in PWC victories by brand (123)
•General Motors first all-time in PWC victories by manufacturer (188)
Chevrolet: Five Manufacturer Championships (1990-91, 1994, 2013, 2017)
Blackdog Speed Shop: Two Team Championships (2013, 2017)
Blackdog Speed Shop: Four Driver Championships (2013-15, 2017)
Article by Blackdog Speed Shop
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