Team Cadillac Headed to Pivotal Weekend in Wine Country

  • Aug 20, 2013
  • Pratt Miller

Reading Time: 4 minutes

DETROIT, (Aug. 20, 2013) – Team Cadillac drivers Johnny O’Connell and Andy Pilgrim are heading to wine country for the Pirelli World Challenge Cadillac Grand Prix of Sonoma running at Sonoma Raceway Aug. 23.

O’Connell (Flowery Branch, Ga.) is leading the Pirelli World Challenge GT driver points with teammate Pilgrim (Boca Raton, Fla.) third in the standings 139 out from the lead. Cadillac is in a strong position in the manufacturers title race with 90, 19 over second place Audi. Last year at Sonoma O’Connell and Pilgrim had an up and down double race weekend. O’Connell qualified on pole for the first race in 2012, with Pilgrim next to him in second, the duo went onto finish second and fourth respectively in the first race. In the second race Pilgrim finished second with O’Connell sixth.

The Cadillac pair are both veterans of the 2.3-mile, 12-turn circuit located at the gateway to California’s wine country. O’Connell was an instructor at the track and Pilgrim has a vast history, including a NASCAR Sprint Cup start. Both drivers will have to use their extensive Sonoma pedigree on this important weekend with just two races remaining on the Pirelli World Challenge schedule.

“This is a critical weekend for everyone at Team Cadillac,” O’Connell said. “As tight as the championship battle is, I know I will have to execute at the highest at Sonoma this weekend in my Cadillac CTS-V, which is a situation I greatly enjoy. Added pressure to perform is something I’ve always thrived on. The challenge of a close championship battle with just two 50-mintue races left is what drivers look forward to every year.”

“Lately I have been really in touch with everything on my CTS-V,” he continued. “I have a lot of history at Sonoma that goes back a long way. I used to be an instructor there with the Bondurant School. I taught for Bob [Bondurant] from 1988 through 1990 before the school moved to Phoenix. I’m confident that no one in any series has more laps around that track than I. I have also won there five consecutive years in the Corvette. I’m anxious to get that winning streak going again.”

Pilgrim has many Sonoma race track memories.

“I had my first professional win at Sonoma in 1986 in the Firestone Firehawk Endurance Series driving a Pontiac Trans-Am,” Pilgrim said. “Sonoma ranks very high on my list of favorite tracks. It’s a driver’s track that rewards a good set-up. The most critical part of the track, to me, is the Turn One and Turn Two complex and the Turn Five through the Carousel combination. Both these sections require great set-up and the ability of car and driver to carry a lot of momentum through these sections.”

“My craziest Sonoma story would have to be getting a call to see if I could drive a Chevrolet Sprint Cup car in 2011, less than two weeks from race day,” he added. “I had no testing time in the car at all. I had never sat in a Sprint Cup car before. We broke an axle in the only 90 minute practice session so I got less than 15 laps total before qualifying. I had no chance to do a practice qualifying run, which is a one lap dash on cold tires. I was able to qualify in 43rd spot, less than a tenth of a second from not making the race. I was up to 11th at one point in the race and found out we had no more new tires for the final pit stop. I continued to race as hard as I could on old tires to finish on the lead lap in 26th. I ended up as the top placed road course ringer. Crazy.”

The Pirelli World Challenge Cadillac Grand Prix of Sonoma is a single race weekend that will take the standing start on Sunday, Aug. 23 at 12:10 PT.

Team Cadillac 2013 Pirelli World Challenge GT Results

Event: St. Petersburg

Drivers: O’Connell; Pilgrim

Qualify: 5, 4; 6, 6

Finish: 3, 3; 4, 5

Event: Long Beach

Drivers: O’Connell; Pilgrim

Qualify: 5; 7

Finish: 8; 2

Event: Circuit of the America’s

Drivers: O’Connell; Pilgrim

Qualify: 1, 1; 4, 4

Finish: 1, 17; 3, 2

Event: Detroit

Drivers: O’Connell; Pilgrim

Qualify: 1, 3; 4, 4

Finish: 1, 2; 3, 8

Event: Lime Rock

Drivers: O’Connell; Pilgrim

Qualify: 1, 1; 2, 3

Finish: 3, 1; 2, 2

Event: Toronto

Drivers: O’Connell; Pilgrim

Qualify: 1; 4

Finish: 1; 2

Event: Mid-Ohio

Drivers: O’Connell; Pilgrim; Taylor

Qualify: 5, 3; 8, 5; 3, 8

Finish: 2, 11; 5, 4; 7, 12


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