May 2, 2013, 1:15 PM EST
“This level of car could possibly be the best type of sports car racing in the world.”
It’s a bold statement from Lawson Aschenbach, driver of the No. 10 Blackdog Racing Chevy Camaro in the GTS class of the Pirelli World Challenge. But considering Aschenbach’s resume – driving everything from Porsches, to Civics, to Cadillacs – it carries some weight.
Team and driver switched from the GT class to the GTS class in World Challenge this year; Tony Gaples is a longtime Corvette racer in GT, and Aschenbach drove for the TruSpeed Porsche team in 2012.
Now, they’ve entered a hornet’s nest of competition that includes the RealTime Acuras, GTSport with Goldcrest Porsche Caymans, Best IT Camaros, Kinetic Kia Optimas and other cars such as the Ford Mustang Boss 302Rs, Aston Martin Vantage, Nissan 370Z, Lotus Exige and Scion FR-S. It’s as diverse a class as you’ll see racing in North America today.
“From street car to race car, most are street-related parts,” says Aschenbach. “It’s the best way for a manufacturer to validate their street car. The class showcases that. I don’t see why any manufacturer wouldn’t want to be involved. Top programs like Kinetic, RealTime, Goldcrest/GTSport, etc., probably should be in GT. But this is a great place to prove the team and the car capabilities.”
That makes it all the more impressive that in just their second weekend as a combined unit, Aschenbach took down established class king Peter Cunningham of RealTime at Long Beach to score Blackdog’s first GTS victory (see it Sunday, May 5, 2 p.m. ET, on NBC Sports Network). Aschenbach attests the effort Gaples and chief mechanic Ray Sorenson have put in has made all the difference.
“I’m so pleased with the results so far, but in all honesty, I expected it,” Aschenbach says. “When this program started to come together, and I worked with Ray and Tony a couple years ago in a test day, I realized the professionalism and what they were capable of.”
Aschenbach, who notes the Camaro is a true testament to the effort of GM engineers, handles street courses very well. It has great brakes and takes bumps and corners very well, key elements to success on the concrete canyons that populate the World Challenge schedule.
Knowing where GT cars have their strong suits is also important, as in the GTS class, you always have to be aware of faster GT traffic. Having been in both classes is an asset for both Aschenbach and Gaples.
The drive for another win occurs in a little more than two weeks at Austin’s Circuit of the Americas. GT and GTS will race combined as they have to open the year, with TC and TCB joining for the first time this season.
Mar 6, 2014, 9:45 PM EST
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Mar 6, 2014, 8:00 PM EST
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Mar 6, 2014, 6:45 PM EST
Series seeks marketing/promotional growth to match solid on-track product.
Mar 6, 2014, 6:00 PM EST
Townsend Bell, Bill Sweedler to continue in AIM-run Ferrari in TUDOR Championship.
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Regulations change plus a solid preseason leaves Sir Frank bullish on Williams’ 2014 outlook.
Mar 6, 2014, 4:30 PM EST
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After teasing us a few days ago with a brief video of what was to come, the first episode of Smokey Is The Bandit, featuring NASCAR star Tony Stewart, is out.
Mar 6, 2014, 2:19 PM EST
Funny Car driver Alexis DeJoria is already having a dream season – and she’s only two races into the 24-race 2014 NHRA schedule.
Mar 6, 2014, 1:38 PM EST
Although this is no laughing matter, one of comedian Larry the Cable Guy’s signature lines — “That ain’t right” – is quite appropriate in this instance. According to MotorAuthority.com, Chrysler officials have recalled 93 Dodge Vipers that were donated to schools and colleges around the U.S. for educational purposes. But the cars aren’t being recalled…
Mar 6, 2014, 12:31 PM EST
NHRA star Antron Brown is watching the career of budding NASCAR star Darrell “Bubba” Wallace quite closely.
Mar 6, 2014, 12:26 PM EST
For the first time in more than 30 years, the name “Bernstein” will not be on the qualifying grid for next week’s NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla.
Mar 6, 2014, 11:30 AM EST
Pop quiz: Who has been the most consistent driver in Sprint Cup over nearly the last dozen races, dating back to the latter part of last season?
Mar 6, 2014, 10:35 AM EST
It’s been a question for the ages: which is faster, the Snake or the Mongoo$e? It’s a question that was arguably one of the most-asked during the late 1960s and 1970s when Don “The Snake” Prudhomme and Tom “The Mongoo$e” (yes, there was a $ instead of an “s”) McEwen engaged in one of the…
Mar 6, 2014, 9:45 AM EST
Rider learns from Simon Pagenaud, Josef Newgarden before sampling HPD simulator.
Mar 6, 2014, 9:24 AM EST
Iconic lines, livery return to F1 aboard the FW36-Mercedes.
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Simon Pagenaud, Mikhail Aleshin lap the Homestead-Miami road course on Tuesday.
Mar 5, 2014, 6:00 PM EST
Potential new family addition for Menard could see Crafton make his Sprint Cup debut.
Mar 5, 2014, 5:00 PM EST
Fresh livery for the 88 at Las Vegas.
Mar 5, 2014, 4:30 PM EST
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