Gaples’ strong start negated by incident midway through Race 2
DANVILLE, Va. – Blackdog Speed Shop’s Lawson Aschenbach scored a fourth straight podium finish Sunday to open the Pirelli World Challenge season and leaves Virginia International Raceway with the GTS Driver’s Championship lead.
Aschenbach, in the No. 10 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R, placed third in the 50-minute race to mirror his result from Saturday. That came on the heels of back-to-back, runner-up finishes in the opening weekend at St. Petersburg.
Aschenbach had been scored fourth at the finish Sunday after last-lap contact originally knocked him off the GTS podium. Series officials reversed the order after the race, much to the delight of the Blackdog Speed Shop team.
Fortune didn’t smile on teammate Tony Gaples in the No. 11 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R. He experienced a double-dose of weekend bad luck when an errant car that was coming back on track with a little more than 20 minutes to go collided into the No. 11 Camaro. It capped a frustrating weekend that saw Gaples miss Saturday’s first race.
Aschenbach began fifth but picked up two positions from the standing start. He enjoyed a nearly three-second gap back to fourth place before a full-course caution at the halfway mark. The last two laps were tense ones before Aschenbach was hit from behind at the end of the backstretch, causing the No. 10 Camaro GT4.R to lose traction and get sideways in Turn 14 of the 17-turn circuit.
The four-time World Challenge champion tried to collect the handling of the Camaro but lost just enough momentum to cede the position before the post-race ruling gave him back third place.
“We deserved a podium finish,” Aschenbach said. “We were in good shape from the start; the yellow at half way hurt us a little but I feel like I had fourth-place covered. It was a tough fight to the end. Fortunately for us, the officials made what we think was the right decision to change the finishing order. We are leaving VIR with the points lead, and big thanks to everyone at Blackdog Speed Shop for all the hard work. The No. 10 Blackdog Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R felt really good after some changes from yesterday’s race. Hopefully we can be closer to the front once we get to Canada for the next race.”
Gaples’ Camaro GT4.R was ready to go Sunday morning after missing Saturday’s Race 1. Owing to a mechanical problem for Aschenbach on Saturday morning, the Blackdog Speed Shop crew moved the differential on Gaples’ car to Aschenbach’s for the race. The crew installed the new parts to the No. 11 Camaro on Sunday morning, and Gaples rewarded them for the hard work by gaining four spots in the opening two laps after starting 16th.
He eventually worked his way into the top-10 before he was collected by another GTS car between turns Two and Three.
“What a huge disappointment,” Gaples said. “Things were going so well today. The Blackdog Speed Shop guys did a phenomenal job getting my No. 11 Chevy Camaro GT4.R ready for this morning. It felt great from the start and I had picked up a lot of positions and points, which was huge after yesterday. For me, I was in the right place at the wrong time. There was nothing I could do to avoid the car coming back on the track. I hate it most for the crew after all the work they did last night and this morning. We’ll get the Camaro fixed for Canada to get back in the points hunt.”
The next event for Blackdog Speed Shop is May 19-21 from Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. CBS Sports Network will air GTS action from VIR at 5 p.m. ET on Sunday, May 14.
About Blackdog Speed Shop
Blackdog Speed Shop builds more than just racecars. Whether you race competitively, attend the occasional trackday or like to cruise the back roads, Blackdog will help you get more enjoyment out of your favorite car, be it a Chevrolet Camaro, a Mazda Miata or the newest Porsche 911. From simple brake and suspension upgrades to complete motor builds, dyno-tuning and resto-mods, Blackdog can help!
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!