Cooper started race one on the front row in his Vector Blue No. 8 Cadillac ATS-V.R Coupe on the strength of a 1:32.148 qualifying time, just missing the pole (pole was No. 31 Ferrari, 1:32.002). At the start of the 50-minute sprint race, he was able to get in front of the Ferrari going into the fast uphill Turn 2 and lead the race. The event went caution free with Cooper pacing the field the entire distance. Unfortunately, his championship rivals shared the podium with Cooper. Patrick Long, No. 58 Porsche, finished third accumulating enough points to win the GT championship and Alvaro Parent, No. 9 McLaren, finished second. With another strong run in tomorrow’s season finale Cooper can move into second position in the driver standings.
“The 31tried a pretty sketchy move, but I was able to get by him up into Turn 2,” Cooper said. “Once I was past and the guys were dicing it up behind me I was able to set a good pace, hit my marks and run my own pace. I was able to be fast where we were good and minimize where we weren’t. In a battle it is easy to use up the tires and the car. It made my day a lot easier. We can’t win the overall championship, but we can get second. I think I have to beat Alvaro by a position to move into second in points. That will be the goal.”
O’Connell had a tough open to the weekend. During Friday’s last practice session he had a big crash in the Velocity Red No. 3 Cadillac ATS-V.R Coupe. “It doesn’t happen often but everyone falls off and I’m disappointed in myself (for the crash),” he said O’Connell, a 20-race winner in PWC GT competition. “I just understeered into turn six and hit a bump. The next thing I know I was in the air and face first into the wall. Very grateful that Cadillac Racing builds one heck of a strong car. That was a huge one. I haven’t had a huge one like that since my IndyCar days (in the 1990s).”
Both Cadillac Racing crews, the engineers and every spare hand chipped in to turn the show car, which prior to 4:30 p.m., was sitting in the Cadillac activation display on the Sonoma retail midway. The team put in nine hours to transform the show car into a competitive race car Friday night and into the morning. Saturday the team had the now Crystal White No. 3 Cadillac ATS-V.R Coupe waiting at the World Challenge tech inspection tent at 7 a.m. and on the track at 10 a.m. for qualifying. O’Connell was able to put in a time of 1:33.055 good for a seventh row starting position.
At the start O’Connell improved two positions and then 10 minutes into the race he had contact with the No. 93 Acura of Peter Kox going into Turn 7. The resulting contact had body work rubbing on the left front tire which caused O’Connell to pit for repairs. He was classified in 18th place at the checker.
“Congratulations to Michael on the win,” O’Connell said. “It is nice to get one for Cadillac on speed. My race was tough. The guys worked their butts off last night getting the spare car into race shape. They are the best crew in the paddock. I gave it everything in qualifying, but not having sat in the car prior we started 12th. In the race I was able to move up at the start and make-up a few positions. Going into Turn 7 I got inside of the Acura and he came down on me at the exit. We barely touched. The contact knocked the inner fender onto the tire and I had to pit. We will get it together, make some changes and go again tomorrow.”
Source. Kyle Chura/Cadillac Raceway