Elkhart Lake, WI – Andrew Aquilante scored his first career Pirelli World Challenge victory, and took control of the GTS points lead for Phoenix America Motorsports following a strong Road America weekend at the mid-point of the 2015 season. Aquilante drove from last to a fourth place in race one, setting fast race lap in the process, before putting on a Mustang driving clinic from pole in race two, maximizing points to jump ahead of his Phoenix Performance/Calvert Dynamics teammate Kurt Rezzetano in the championship standings. Preston Calvert, meanwhile, matched his best finish of the season with a fourth place run in GT Cup.
Aquilante was set to start Saturday’s race from eighth before his Ford Mustang’s hood blew open on the formation lap. Diving to Elkhart Lake’s pit road, the Phoenix America Motorsports crew, responsible for four entries across two classes, quickly fixed the issue. This would force Aquilante to start the race from the pits, though, seeing him return to the form that had him drive from last to first in a Trans-Am race a few weeks prior.
Aquilante, a five-time SCCA National Champion, wheeled his No. 32 entry to third position, eventually settling for fourth ahead of teammate Kurt Rezzetano. Calvert retired his No. 35 entry with mechanical issues, completing 17 of 22 laps.
The stage was set on Sunday afternoon, with Aquilante starting from pole with his fast lap from race one. A 11:00am race start was ominously delayed for under an hour for track repairs. As the lights went out on the standing start, Aquilante made a wise decision to not force the issue with fellow Mustang driver Dean Martin, surrendering the lead on the opening lap.
A few circuits around Road America’s 14-turn course later, Aquilante pounced on Martin in turn one, going through to the lead and running a torrid pace to the checkered flag. Teammate Rezzetano briefly looked to make it a Phoenix one-two before overheating issues limited his pace. He would finish 11th, while Calvert had a solid recovery drive to 13th.
Importantly, a strong points weekend for Aquilante puts him in sole possession of the GTS points lead, and also propels Ford to an even larger lead margin in the manufacturers championship.
“We made some changes with the Ford Mustang overnight and they worked beautifully. Hats off to the crew for that,” said Aquilante. “It’s nice to take the point lead but we still have a long way too. We still have four weekends and eight races left in the series and a lot of things can happen. I think we’ll start focusing on the points later on in the season. The way the points are set up you cannot effort to relax. You have to keep pushing for a podium to stay up front.”
For Calvert, it was another weekend of serious track time with four races for him, two in GTS and another two in the GT Cup category. In Sunday’s race, Calvert logged a seventh place result, but the highlight of the weekend for the No. 77 Porsche entry was his drive to fourth on Saturday, methodically moving through the GT Cup field and matching his best finish from earlier in the year. Calvert continues to knock on the door of the GT Cup podium in his debut pro racing season.
TV broadcasts from Road America are as follows on CBS Sports Network: GT/GTA/GT Cup, Sunday July 5 at 2pm Eastern, GTS Wednesday July 8 at 9pm Eastern.
Next up, the Phoenix World Challenge squad heads to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, July 31-August 2.
Team partners include Calvert Dynamics, Phoenix Performance, Ford Performance, Ron Davis Racing Radiators, Hawk Performance Brakes, Penske Racing Shocks, Brembo Brakes, CCW, Power Grid, and Go Puck.