© 2019 by Andy Pilgrim

Mid-Ohio - Looks can be deceiving

July 22, 2007

 If you just look at the starting grid and the results then this column could be mistaken for the one I wrote last year after Road America’s race, where the SCCA World Challenge GT field got all strung out, none of the leaders got close enough to each other to pass, and we all went for a lovely-but-brisk drive.

So let’s replay that song, and this time the location is the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, where I’ve raced about 19 times since 1985 and had good success with a couple of wins along the way.

The race order started in this order: Eric Curran (Corvette), Tommy Archer (Viper), Randy Pobst (Porsche), Michael Galati (Porsche), Lawson Aschenbach (Cadillac CTS-V), and yours truly, of course in the Team Cadillac CTS-V.

When the race ended Sunday afternoon, the order was Curran, Archer, Pobst, Aschenbach, Pilgrim, Galati.

So, what’s deceiving about any of this?

Well, Lawson and I actually qualified 7th and 8th and the Corvettes of Lou Gigliotti and Doug Peterson had to start from the back for a technical infraction the SCCA found after qualifying.  So we end up starting 5th and 6th.

Michael Galati had a stall the moment the race started and immediately dropped back to 10th at the start giving Lawson and I 4th and 5th respectively.

So, off we go to the races.  Lawson and I could make no dent in the legitimate 3rd place qualifying car of Randy Pobst, which makes sense as we were well back from him in qualifying.

But, Lou Gigliotti, Michael Galati and Doug Peterson were coming and I was told on the radio of their split times, as I knew they would be on me before the end.  It was about eight laps to go when Michael was on my rear and I had to drive a perfect last seven laps to not have him pass me.

I had an added bonus problem during this race.  At about the half way point I was acutely aware of my right foot being very, very hot. Feet being hot is not unusual but this was way hotter than anything I had felt before.  In fact as the race went on it was excruciating and I had to really work to keep my concentration on the task at hand and keep running as perfect as I could with Michael right on my bumper.

As we finished the race I finally told my crew chief about the heat, I didn’t mention it during the race as it was pointless and would only have taken my mind off what I was doing.

He laughed actually, which is ok, as we joke about these things.

On Monday morning he called me, not laughing now and told me the engine had a water leak and it was blowing pressurized steam right at the foot well and that would have accounted for the heat.  I was very lucky not to burn too badly, I ended up with some blisters but not too bad.  Also they told me that the engine would not have lasted another five laps, so again lucky there.

Now, here’s one more little piece of news.  At post-race inspection, Tommy Archer’s car got DQ’ed for something, which moved us to 3rd and 4th. Amazing, really!  So we come out with an ok finish from a poor qualifying position.

But now, something is worrying me for the remainder of the year.

Looking at the fastest laps every car turned during the race, it shows the original qualifying order was a real indication of speed and balance of the field.  Lawson and I, sadly, were 7th and 8th quickest during the race; in qualifying we were way off the top five cars.

Our closest competition was easily able to run top three even with extra weight on their car.  I hope SCCA takes some note here otherwise this championship is over.

I came into the race second in Drivers’ Championship points, 180 to 171 behind Randy Pobst, and left 18 points behind Randy.

In the Manufacturers’ Championship battle, Cadillac started the weekend with a six-point advantage over Porsche. We head to Mosport Park Canada on Aug. 24-26 with only a two-point edge over Chevrolet and four points over Porsche.

Ron Fellows will be our guest driver for the Mosport weekend, and, in fact, for the last three races of the year.

Mid-Ohio’s race will be televised by the Speed TV folks on July 28 at 4 p.m. ET.

Does this mean I have a month off?

Not at all. I hope you all noticed my Latest News posting over the weekend – I’m making my NASCAR Busch Series debut Aug. 3 in Montreal on the Gilles Villeneuve Formula 1 circuit.

I’m going to have more commentary to say about that great opportunity as soon as I get my suitcase unpacked and my thoughts collected.

 

 

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