Johnny O'Connell in the No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac CTS-V and Lawson Aschenbach in the No. 10 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro posted the fastest laps in Friday's Pirelli World Challenge GT and GTS qualifying sessions, respectively, at the Circuit of The Americas. O'Connell and Aschenbach will start at the front of the grid for their respective classes for the Round 4 GT/GTS Class race on Saturday afternoon.
In GT qualifying, O'Connell took the top spot for Saturday's race with a 1:33.539 in the 90-degree temperatures. James Sofronas, GT championship leader coming into COTA, qualified second with a 1:33.578. Randy Pobst, driving the No. 6 K-PAX Volvo S60 posted a 1:34.087 to qualify third.
"Pretty nice," O'Connell said. "I really didn't think we were going to go that fast. We made some changes to the car to make it fast over a couple of laps, and it worked. Even though we didn't test here, I have run a thousand laps in my head and about five hundred laps since yesterday. I did what I had to do to lay a lap down, and we got it done."
The reigning Pirelli World Challenge GT Champion reckons Turn 1 will be a challenge.
"I love the thought of the standing start up that hill," O'Connell said. "Hopefully, we have a good clean start. The tight first corner will invite a mix of stupidity and bravery. I hope that we can get everyone through Turn 1 clean."
In GTS qualifying, Aschenbach posted a 1:40.400, with Mark Wilkins in the No. 38 Kinetic/Kia Racing Kia Optima qualifying second with a 1:40.828 and Peter Cunningham in the No. 42 Acura/HPD/RealTime Racing Acura TSX qualifying third with a 1:40.904.
“We expected to be able to compete here. Coming and testing was a huge benefit to us," said Aschenbach. "Not a lot of teams came [to the test]. I think that's the big difference right now. We've really got a handle on the track.
"It's going to be a long race. We're a very heavy car and tire conservation is going to be very important for us. We'll see what happens. I think we have a good car and a good shot at it.”