Third place for No. 1 Camaro GT4.R; Gaples, Cooper look to rebound
ALTON, Va. – Blackdog Speed Shop climbed on to the Pirelli World Challenge podium at Virginia International Raceway for the third time in two years Saturday as Lawson Aschenbach and Andy Pilgrim took third in the opening GTS SprintX race of the weekend.
Aschenbach, driving the final stint in the No. 1 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R, held on to the podium finish after a full-course caution with 10 minutes left. It was his third World Challenge podium of the season – the first two coming with victories at St. Petersburg – and Pilgrim’s first with the program. Aschenbach also finished third in a pair of GTS Sprint races in 2017.
Tony Gaples and Michael Cooper saw their hopes for a second top-five finish of the season fall by the wayside with a mid-race penalty. They settled for 15th in the No. 11 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R.
Pilgrim qualified ninth Saturday morning and gained two spots early in his stint before a full-course caution on the race’s second lap. He held his position until coming in for the Camaro’s mandatory pit stop with 34 minutes left. By the time the pit window closed with 25 minutes left, Aschenbach’s driving and a solid stop by the Blackdog Speed Shop crew had the No. 1 Camaro squarely in podium contention.
After being balked at the start by a slower car, Gaples had rebounded from 18th to 16th before the pit stop, but series officials deemed that the No. 11 Camaro left the pitlane under the 75-second minimum.
The resulting penalty moved Cooper from ninth to just inside the top-20 with about 15 minutes left. Cooper did yeoman’s work over the final few laps to gain a handful of positions.
The second GTSX race for the Pirelli World Challenge at VIR is scheduled for 1:50 p.m. ET on Sunday. Aschenbach will start seventh in the No. 1 Camaro with Cooper 11th in the No. 11 Blackdog Speed Shop entry. Live race coverage will be available at World-Challenge.com
LAWSON ASCHENBACH, NO. 1 BLACKDOG SPEED SHOP CHEVROLET CAMARO GT4.R: “Andy did a great job at the start to get us in position for a solid finish, and we had a good pit stop. Track position is important here. The game has changed this year with more manufacturers and cars that are forcing everyone to race their games. I knew it was going to be a knock-down, drag-out battle, and it definitely it was. Unfortunately I got stuck behind an Audi that was quicker in all the wrong spots for us and couldn’t mount an attack. But I’m pleased with another podium at VIR. Hats off to everyone at Chevrolet and Blackdog Speed Shop. Our Camaro GT4.R has been fast all week; hopefully we can do a little better tomorrow.”
ANDY PILGRIM, NO. 1 BLACKDOG SPEED SHOP CHEVROLET CAMARO GT4.R: “At the start, the focus was to be quick and take advantage of anything that comes up. I had to keep the car clean to give Lawson a good Camaro with good tires. A couple of times at the start, there were cars going off left and right; I didn’t understand how or why, but the bottom line was keeping our position when we went back to green. From that point, Lawson did a fantastic job to get to the end and on the podium. Thanks to everyone at Blackdog Speed Shop and Chevrolet for this chance today. Our Camaro really was awesome today.”
TONY GAPLES, NO. 11 BLACKDOG SPEED SHOP CHEVROLET CAMARO GT4.R: “That wasn’t the best start, by far. I got stuck behind a slower car at the start. I don’t know if he had a problem but unfortunately we lost a lot of positions. I gained back a couple spots before the pit stop, and Michael did a great job charging back through. Our Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro was pretty solid throughout. The drive-through penalty for our pit stop was disappointing. We’ll try to get back on the right side of things tomorrow.”
MICHAEL COOPER, NO. 11 BLACKDOG SPEED SHOP CHEVROLET CAMARO GT4.R: “I think we learned a few things out there today. We were pretty quick overall in our Blackdog Speed Shop Chevy Camaro. We didn’t get the qualifying lap we wanted due to having to serve our penalty on that lap. The track should be a little cooler tomorrow. We’re still starting in a decent spot – right near the top-10. I think we can move forward and hand Tony a car capable of the top five.”
About Blackdog Speed Shop
Blackdog Speed Shop is a high-performance, custom car builder in the northern suburbs of Chicago specializing in ground-up car builds, high-performance upgrades for engines, transmissions, suspension and exhaust including computer and dyno tuning. Whether you have a modern muscle car, vintage muscle, 1930s hot rod or a foreign exotic, you will enjoy the Blackdog experience.
Ever dreamed of piloting a real World Challenge race car? Blackdog offers rental and “arrive and drive” racing in addition to purpose-built cars. Call Blackdog today at (855) 4-BLACKDOG to schedule an appointment or discuss the best way to put you in the driver’s seat!
Blackdog Speed Shop at a Glance
• Pirelli World Challenge GTS Driver Championships – 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017
• Pirelli World Challenge GTS Team Championships – 2013, 2017
• Pirelli World Challenge GTS Manufacturer Championships – 2013, 2017
• Pirelli World Challenge GTS Victories: 21 – Most in class history
Chevrolet in Pirelli World Challenge
• Chevrolet Camaro second all-time in PWC victories by model (51).
• Chevrolet first all-time in PWC victories by brand (125)
• General Motors first all-time in PWC victories by manufacturer (188)
• Chevrolet five Manufacturer Championships (1990-91, 1994, 2013, 2017)