No. 10 Blackdog Camaro dominates in opening race; Gaples strong before mid-race retirement
AUSTIN, Texas – It seemed like old times for Blackdog Speed Shop as Lawson Aschenbach marked his return to the team with a GTS victory in the first race for the Pirelli World Challenge of 2016.
Aschenbach, in the No. 10 OMP/Eibach Chevrolet Camaro Z/28.R, scored a 2.031-second victory Saturday at Circuit of The Americas for his 19th career World Challenge victory. The two-time GTS champion – both coming in Blackdog Speed Shop Camaros – led every lap after starting third in the 50-minute race.
“It’s so exciting to come back this year,” said Aschenbach, who has won four World Challenge driving titles. “I have to thank everyone at Blackdog Speed Shop. This Chevy Camaro Z/28.R has been fast all weekend. We tested a couple of weeks ago and were looking forward to the race. We weren’t sure how it would turn out due to all the new cars and so forth. But I’m really excited to start the season off with a win. Being a single-driver sprint series, the Pirelli World Challenge is great for the fans and drivers.”
Aschenbach started third but made quick work of the two cars ahead of him before an opening-lap caution period. He never trailed again in the 20-lap sprint and will start second in Sunday’s second GTS race of the weekend based on fastest lap times from Race 1.
“We knew that being able to get out front early would be a key,” Aschenbach said. “There are so many new cars and competitors here that I wanted to be able to control the race from the front. We had great strategy in qualifying to save our tires, and that showed early in the race. The guys on this Blackdog crew nailed the setup so it made my job pretty easy. I couldn’t ask for a better start and hopefully we can make it two-for-two tomorrow.”
Teammate Tony Gaples in the No. 11 OMP/Eibach Chevrolet Camaro Z/28.R made his 150th career start in World Challenge competition. Early on, it looked like it would be a race to remember as Gaples moved up three positions into the top-10 following the restart. He made a pair of thrilling moves underneath competitors as the braking and mid-corner handling of the Camaro was on display. He had to retire with 27 minutes left due to right-front suspension damage.
“It was a good race there for a little while,” Gaples said. “I felt like I could make up some positions in the early part. The brakes on our Camaro were good and I could be aggressive during cornering. Unfortunately we’ve been battling some issues all weekend and they surfaced again in the race when something broke at the right-front. It’s a shame but tomorrow’s another day. Congratulations to Lawson for giving us a win in his return to Blackdog Speed Shop. It’s a great way for him to start the year and our push to a fourth GTS title.”
“I also want to congratulate Tony on his 150th race,” Aschenbach added. “I’m so happy to be friends and teammates with him. It’s a really good way to start the season.”
This is the second straight victory at COTA for Blackdog Speed Shop, which won 2015’s second GTS race with Michael Cooper to start the year.
With today’s win, Aschenbach has won four of his last eight races as a full-time driver for Blackdog Speed Shop.
For the 2016 Pirelli World Challenge season, Blackdog Speed Shop is proud of the support from its partners OMP, Eibach and Team Chevy.
Race 2 for the GTS class is set for noon ET on Sunday with live coverage will be available at World-Challenge.com. CBS Sports Network will air GTS action from Circuit of The Americas at 9 p.m. ET on Thursday, March 17.
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!