Gaples, Cooper Climb Podium in GTS SprintX Race 1 in Austin
Third place for No. 11 Blackdog Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R; Aschenbach/Pilgrim finish seventh in No. 1 Camaro
AUSTIN, Texas – Blackdog Speed Shop’s Tony Gaples and Michael Cooper scored a podium finish Saturday in the team’s first SprintX race with a fantastic effort in Pirelli World Challenge GTSX at Circuit of the Americas.
Gaples and Cooper placed third in the No. 11 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R on the heels of a solid qualifying effort by Gaples and a great pit stop by the Blackdog Speed Shop crew. Meanwhile, Lawson Aschenbach and Andy Pilgrim were seventh in their No. 1 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R.
Saturday was the first time that Blackdog Speed Shop – defending World Challenge GTS Driver, Team and Manufacturer Champion – delved into multi-driver racing. The team’s strategy and execution paid dividends as the two cars combined to finish 20 positions higher than their starting positions.
Gaples qualified the No. 11 Camaro GT4.R in an encouraging 10th position, but he spent almost all of his stint behind the safety car after two early-race caution periods for incidents at the first turn. He handed off to Cooper with 32 minutes left with the Blackdog crew gaining seven spots once the 10-minute pit window closed. Cooper, the 2015 GTS Champion, ran a clean, uninterrupted race to the end.
The second full-course caution left Pilgrim with front-end damage to the No. 1 Camaro after he came up to a car stopped in the middle of the track. There was nowhere for the former World Challenge GT Champion to go when he arrived at the scene and suffered contact with another car as they tried to evade the incident.
Pilgrim came in for the driver change to defending GTS Champion and St. Petersburg double-winner Aschenbach at the 35 minute mark. Aschenbach tried his best to maintain his position in the top-five after the pit stop but the damage and lack of pace hampered that effort.
Sunday’s second GTSX race at COTA is scheduled for 10:15 a.m. CT. Aschenbach will start the No. 1 Blackdog Speed Shop Camaro in 11th while Cooper begins 17th in the No. 1 Blackdog Speed Shop Camaro. Live race coverage will be available at World-ChallengeTV.com.
TONY GAPLES, NO. 11 BLACKDOG SPEED SHOP CHEVROLET CAMARO GT4.R: “It’s hard to be disappointed with a third-place finish, so we’ll gladly take it. Everyone on our Blackdog Speed Shop team deserves this result. It started with a good Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R for qualifying. I felt like I got everything I could get out of the car in the morning. There wasn’t a lot to my stint in the race… less than two laps of green. It came down to a great job in the pits for our crew to get Michael out in podium position. He did a great job to the end, as we expected. We’ll have a tougher time of it tomorrow with our starting positions, but we have the team to make something happen.”
MICHAEL COOPER, NO. 11 BLACKDOG SPEED SHOP CHEVROLET CAMARO GT4.R: “Great job by Tony and the team at Blackdog Speed Shop. We knew a podium would be a tough task today, so it was a job well done by everyone. Tony’s qualifying effort was really solid, and all the trouble early in the race made it even more important. After the driver change, it was a matter of getting the most I could out of our Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R. We didn’t have the pace to challenge for the win but we can feel a real sense of accomplishment coming away with third place and a solid start to the SprintX season.”
LAWSON ASCHENBACH, NO. 1 BLACKDOG SPEED SHOP CHEVROLET CAMARO GT4.R: “Considering how things could have gone, seventh today wasn’t too bad. Getting the results that we did in large part goes to the preparation and execution of our Blackdog Speed Shop team. I feel bad for Andy; he was in a tough spot and really couldn’t do anything to avoid contact. We were already down on pace, and that didn’t help matters. Still, we managed to score good points. In a lot of ways we overachieved, but that’s something that this Blackdog Speed Shop program with Chevrolet has faced quite a few times. We’ll have another chance tomorrow.”
ANDY PILGRIM, NO. 1 BLACKDOG SPEED SHOP CHEVROLET CAMARO GT4.R: “That was frustrating to say the least. It’s tough to get into any kind of rhythm with consecutive yellow flags. The last restart was a matter of wrong place at the wrong time. I had nowhere to go with the car stopped in the middle of the road. Despite that, it’s a great result for Blackdog Speed Shop to have two cars in the top-seven considering our qualifying result. Hats off to the team on a great strategy and execution to gain us track position. We’ll need more of that tomorrow given our pace.”
Blackdog Speed Shop Facts and Figures – Pirelli World Challenge
• Winningest GTS program in PWC history – 23 victories
o Two Team Championships (2013, 2017)
o Four Driver Championships (2013-15, 2017)
o Two Manufacturer Championships (2013, 2017)
Chevrolet Facts and Figures – 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)
• Championship Totals
o Chevrolet: Five Manufacturer Championships (1990-91, 1994, 2013, 2017)
o Blackdog Speed Shop: Two Team Championships (2013, 2017)
o Blackdog Speed Shop: Four Driver Championships (2013-15, 2017)
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: 23 – Most in class history
Copyright © 2018 Blackdog Speed Shop, All rights reserved.
505 Bond Street, Lincolnshire, IL 60069
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