Redemption for O'Connell and another podium for Pilgrim
After the previous weekend's performance on the streets of St. Petersburg, Johnny O'Connell drove like he had something to prove in Long Beach, California this past weekend at the Pirelli World Challenge Series Long Beach Grand Prix. Like St. Pete, Long Beach is another closed street course (using public city streets), which has 11 turns and 1.9 miles of asphalt. Just last year O'Connell was leading the race with 5 laps to go when the V succumbed to a fatal wound (a portion of a competitor's brake rotor became lodged in the radiator). This year was quite a bit different, getting a great start and leading the entire 31-lap race.
"I got a pretty good start," O'Connell said. "Andy may have gotten a little better launch than I did, but there was no way I wasn't going into Turn One deep. The first couple laps were very challenging. The car was really sliding around after the restart, then the Pirelli tires came in and the car really came to me. I got some really good breaks with traffic and was never really held up. I know Anthony Lazzaro was chewing on Andy, so I had to keep pushing. I think Andy I were really close I just had the track position. Getting so close last year I was super motivated to get the win today. It was nice to get the victory for the team and all of the Cadillac fans that came out this weekend."
Pilgrim had a pretty good day himself, taking second overall for the second weekend in a row, which makes him the points leader in GT. "I got a really good start," Pilgrim said. "Johnny was on the inside, so I was happy to slot in behind him into Turn One. Our plan was to work hard at the beginning of the race as we thought it would get slippery towards the end with our heavy car. We both were sliding at the end. Traffic worked in our favor. Anthony got hurt twice toward the end of the race with slower cars, so that helped. I had a good car, it was going away at the end, but that is to be expected. A good day for Cadillac."
Television coverage of the race will air Sunday, April 20th at 5:30p.m. and Friday, April 25 at 1a.m. And the next race in the Pirelli World Challenge Series will be April 25-26 at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama.