Second in qualifying for Race 1; Gaples confident after strong showing in wet conditions

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.  – Lawson Aschenbach made his return to Barber Motorsports Park an emphatic one Thursday by qualifying his Blackdog Speed Shop OMP/Eibach Chevrolet Camaro Z/28.R on the front row for the first of two Pirelli World Challenge GTS races from the 15-turn, 2.38-mile road course in Birmingham, Alabama.

Aschenbach qualified second for the Grand Prix of Birmingham presented by Porsche with a lap of 1:30.447 (90.881 mph) in his No. 10 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevy Camaro. It put him just 0.075 seconds off the pole time and in good position to challenge for his second victory of the season.

Aschenbach was the early pace-setter – he was quickest in Thursday’s second practice – and enters the weekend second in GTS driver points after opening the season with a win at Circuit of the Americas. His best career GTS finish at Barber was third in 2014.

“It was a good qualifying session,” Aschenbach said. “We’re obviously happy with P2. It would have been nice to have pole but that’s the way it goes sometimes. Everybody was playing different strategies in qualifying, and it was dependent on if and when the track was going to dry. My engineer Ryan (McCarthy) made a really great call to go out and get a lap in early to set a time in case it went red. Then we waited and went out at the end to put down a lap when the track was pretty dry. It will be a good starting position and we should have a good shot at the race. More importantly, our Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro Z/28.R was on rails. I’m really proud of the guys and all the hard work they’ve put in. It was one of the best cars I’ve had all year, so I’m really impressed.”

Tony Gaples set a best lap of 1:32.489 (88.874 mph) in the Blackdog Speed Shop No. 11 OMP/Eibach Chevrolet Camaro Z/28.R, good enough for 14th in the 23-car field. He was one of the quickest drivers early in qualifying with the track still damp, so that should bode well with most predictions calling for rain Friday afternoon around the time of the green flag.

“This was a tough session with changes in the track conditions from wet at the beginning to a full dry line by the end,” said Gaples, who gained the most positions at the start of the most recent GTS race at St. Petersburg. “Looking at the forecast for tomorrow, I feel pretty confident. The Blackdog Speed Shop No. 11 OMP/Eibach Chevrolet Camaro Z/28.R handled pretty well in the rain and I was among the quicker cars in the wet. We might try a rain dance tomorrow just in case! This is the best my Camaro has felt this year in qualifying so hopefully that carries over to both races this weekend, whether the weather is a factor or not.”

For the 2016 Pirelli World Challenge season, Blackdog Speed Shop is proud of the support from its partners OMP, Eibach and Team Chevy.

The Pirelli World Challenge GTS class will race at Barber Motorsports Park on Thursday through Saturday. Qualifying is set for 5:15 p.m. CT on Thursday with the first of two races set for 1:15 p.m. ET on Friday. Race 2 is scheduled for 9:45 a.m. CT on Sunday.

Live race coverage will be available at CBS Sports Network will air GTS action from Barber at 1 p.m. ET on Saturday, May 7.


About Blackdog Speed Shop
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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!