The Winning Move
To appreciate Andy Pilgrim's amazing late-race pass you have to understand something about Road Atlanta. Coming out of Turn 11 the cars go down a very steep hill and pick up a great deal of speed as they enter Turn 12, a sweeping righthander that barely slows them down. Out of 12 they enter the long front straight in top gear with the hammer stuffed to the floor. At the end of the straight, where the Corvettes and Vipers are topping 180 mph, is Turn 1, a full 90-degree righthander. Drivers must quickly downshift and brake very hard to make it through Turn 1. It was here, in one of road racing's most challenging corners, that Pilgrim executed the seemingly impossible pass. "Andy is one of the best drivers out there," said Corvette Racing team manager Doug Fehan after the race. "Going into Turn 1 he put that Corvette where it was never intended to go, where everyone knew it couldn't go, and somehow he made it stick. He showed what Corvette handling is all about, what America's true sports car can do!"
In describing his daring maneuver, this is what Pilgrim had to say: "I thrashed it unmercifully during that last double stint. I was running very hard to catch the #92 car. And the pass-the Corvette was a better car at the end of the race. It was a question of 'I knew I could get to him, but could I pass him and make it stick?' With two laps to go it was now or never. I came out of Turn 12 with a good run on Tommy Archer down to Turn 1, and he moved to the middle to block. I moved back to the left to try and fake him out, like I would be dumb enough to do that in Turn 1, and as soon as we hit the brake zone I dove the car back to the right and went underneath. I think I might have surprised him. I don't think he expected me to go by him there. He told me on the podium that it took the air off the front of his car and he lost all the front downforce and went off the track. When I got to the top of the hill I couldn't see lights so I ran like an idiot all through the esses thinking, 'My gosh, he's so close to me I can't even see him!' I didn't realize he had run off the track-I thought he was right on my rear. I had to laugh to myself when I realized he wasn't there."