O’Connell Two Race Wins
SONOMA, Calif. – Cadillac Racing driver Johnny O’Connell swept the weekend at the Pirelli World Challenge (PWC) Grand Prix of Sonoma presented by Cadillac.
Based upon their fast laps from race one yesterday, O’Connell (Flowery Branch, Ga) took the green flag for race two from third with teammate Michael Cooper (Syosset, N.Y.) lining up right behind in fifth on the GT grid.
O’Connell was able to get a signature Cadillac start by passing two cars before Turn 1. Timing the drop of the green allowed him to miss what was to come – a carousel melee that had competitors bottled up in the long left turn resulting in race car carnage. Thanks to the aggression of the competitors behind, it allowed O’Connell to get a gap on the first lap and he was able to manage the gift to his second race win of the weekend and third on the season, the first coming at the Circuit of America’s season opening race weekend in March.
“I was laser focused on the starter with the green flag,” O’Connell said. “I had the revs up on the Cadillac ATS-V.R Coupe and was able to drive by the McLarens. I guess there was a lot of action behind me in the carousel and when I exited the last turn on the first lap I had pretty nice gap. Then when I came around on lap two I saw parts and pieces in the track from the lap one action. It was a good weekend for Cadillac. I tell people this team is like Joe Montana. He was always a fourth quarter player and we are headed to Laguna Seca with still a chance.”
Teammate Cooper was one of those caught up in the carousel carnage. He hit the McLaren of Alvaro Parente causing damage to the Cadillac ATS-V.R Coupe and had to pit for repairs, sending him down a lap where he was classified in 21st at the finish.
“I got bottled up at the start a little and was behind Alvaro going into the carousel,” Cooper said. “It started to stack up and I got into the back of him, I just had nowhere to go. As a result I had to pit for some body work removal and that sent us down a lap. I feel bad for the guys as they worked very hard on the Cadillac since Utah to set it up for the nuances of this track. It paid off Johnny.”
The Pirelli World Challenge series will travel to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for the season finale to run, October 7-9. The race from Sonoma will be televised on the CBS Sports Network September 25 at 4:00 p.m. ET.
Cadillac Racing, since its inception in 2004, has amassed 30 wins, 108 podium finishes (including wins) and 23 pole positions. The team won the World Challenge Manufacturer Championship in 2005, 2007, 2012, 2013 and 2014. Cadillac Racing drivers have won the World Challenge Driver’s Championship in 2005 with Andy Pilgrim and in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 with Johnny O’Connell.
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