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2nd Straight Year that a Mustang dominates GTS Class at St. Pete
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Andrew Aquilante’s double wins at the Pirelli World Challenge Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Presented by Case-It enjoyed a local flair after another dominating performance in the GTS division’s 50-minute sprint race with the No. 32 Phoenix Performance Ford Mustang Boss 302 at the 1.8-mile, 14-turn temporary street circuit near the St. Pete harborside.
All Pirelli World Challenge results are provisional until the stewards review and technical inspection are completed.
Aquilante of Chester Springs, Penn., recruited a team of three local St. Pete area residents to assist himself and his father, Joe, in the paddock this weekend for the two GTS events and the combination proved to be a winner after Andrew took the lead on lap three of the 34-lap feature and posted a 1.598-second win over Lawson Aschenbach of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., in the No. 10 Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R and 16-year-old Parker Chase of New Braunsfels, Tex., in the No. 19 Performance Motorsports Group Ginetta G55.
Aquilante, who finished second to Michael Cooper in the 2015 GTS point championship, showed that the reliable Ford Mustang Boss 302 was the “horse for course” machine after a second consecutive double GTS win for the “Blue Oval” at St. Petersburg. Last year, Jack Roush Jr., captured both GTS main events in the Ford Mustang Boss 302.
On Saturday, Aquilante started from the pole but lost the top spot in turn one to Aschenbach, who was debuting the new Chevy Camaro GT4.R in PWC action. On lap three, Andrew slid his older model Ford past the two-time GTS champion for the lead and Aquilante managed to hold off the pressure from Aschenbach to take another checkered flag in the 80-plus degree weather.
“The track was pretty good today, a little bit faster than yesterday since it was a little bit cooler out,” said Aquilante. “Lawson (Aschenbach) started pouring it on when we only had five laps to go and I thought ‘oh boy’ and actually a lap or two before that I started missing shifts and rowing through the gear box so I had to slow that down a little bit. That let (Aschenbach) creep up and get a little closer, and I was waiting for him. The (local) crew guys have all been crew guys on our team before. It all came together and they all wanted to do it. I have to thank Rob Edwards, who used to be a St. Pete firefighter and worked this race years ago and has been part of our team for over five years, and Jason Vanjune, who lives down here and has been a part of our team for the past few years, and Drew Dale, who’s been part of the team for the past three years. It was a really fun weekend.”