LONG BEACH, Calif. – Cadillac Racing driver Johnny O’Connell will start the Pirelli World Challenge Long Beach Grand Prix presented by Cadillac from the front row tomorrow morning. Teammate Cooper suffered a drive issue and will start from the last position on the grid.
O’Connell (Flowery Branch, Ga.) got right down to business posting his fastest lap on just his third circuit of the 1.9-mile, 11-turn temporary street course. As time ticked down it was clear it was going to be a fight with McLaren driver Alvaro Parente for pole position. After O’Connell posted his fast lap of 1:18.955 three laps later was relegated to second.
“Everyone at Cadillac Racing does an amazing job, just eight-thousandths of a second off of pole,” O’Connell said. “You have to hand it to Parente and the K-Pax team, they have that McLaren working. I am excited about my Cadillac ATS-V.R Coupe. There is no strategy for a race like this. Long Beach is a UFC cage fight at 170 mph. You have to run as hard as you can, hit your marks and make no mistakes for 50-minutes. Usually we are pretty good at that on race weekends.”
Cooper (Syosset, N.Y.) posted the fast lap of the day on Friday and then had an engine breathing issue on his No. 8 Cadillac ATS-V.R on the last lap of this morning’s practice session. With just 15-minutes between practice and qualifying the Cadillac Racing crew were not able to make repairs in time for Cooper to make a qualifying run. The GT points leader coming into Long Beach will have his work cutout for him tomorrow to race from the back of the 22 car field.
“I noticed I was losing power toward the end of the practice,” said Cooper. “I immediately came to pit lane and the Cadillac Racing team went to work to try and get me back out for qualifying. They worked hard on it, but we just ran out of time. We will start from the back and I am looking forward to an exciting race tomorrow. Strategy is to pass everybody.”
The single World Challenge GT race from Long Beach will take the green flag at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday, April 17. It will be televised on the CBS Sports Network the same day, Sunday, April 17 at 2 p.m. ET.
Cadillac Racing, since its inception in 2004, has amassed 27 wins, 94 podium finishes (including wins) and 22 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.
Cadillac has been a leading luxury auto brand since 1902. Today, Cadillac is growing globally, driven by an expanding product portfolio featuring dramatic design and technology. More information on Cadillac appears at cadillac.com. Cadillac’s media website with information, images and video can be found at media.cadillac.com.
Additional information can be viewed at Cadillac.com, GM.com, media.gm.com, world-challenge.com, johnnyoconnell.com; Twitter @MSCooper1, @JohnnyOConnell1, @Cadillac; Facebook, GM, Michael Cooper, Johnny O’Connell, Cadillac.
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