AUSTIN, Texas (March 7, 2020) – Blackdog Speed Shop’s pair of McLaren 570S GT4 race cars scored podium finishes Saturday in the first race for the 2020 Pirelli GT4 America Sprint Championship at Circuit of The Americas.
Michael Cooper and Tony Gaples finished third in their respective classes with their Blackdog Speed Shop McLarens – solid starts for the team’s quest for another GT4 championship. Both drivers will look to continue that early-season momentum Sunday in the weekend’s second 50-minute race at 3:10 p.m. CT.
Both Blackdog McLarens found themselves in tough fights from the outset. Cooper, in the No. 10 Blackdog Speed Shop McLaren, began third and wasted little time moving up. He got the jump on front-row starter Spencer Pumpelly for second at the first corner.After running in the lead for a couple of laps, Cooper moved back to second and engaged in a race-long fight with Pumpelly as the two were rarely separated by more than a second.
While they were matched up, Gaples was carving his way through the field in his customary manner with the No. 11 Blackdog McLaren. Starting seventh in GT4 Am, he moved into the top-five in the first 20 minutes before joining a challenge of his own. Gaples chased down the car of Jeff Burton, moving up into third in the process with 15 minutes to go.
The two drivers swapped the position multiple times in the closing laps with Gaples taking it for good with four minutes left after a strong exit from Turn One and downhill toward the winding Esses complex to join Cooper on the podium.
Following Sunday’s second race at COTA, Blackdog Speed Shop will head to St. Petersburg, Florida, for the second round of the GT4 Sprint Championship from March 13-15.MICHAEL COOPER, NO. 10 BLACKDOG SPEED SHOP McLAREN 570S GT4: “It’s a good start to the season. The goal is always to win but we were lacking a little in pace and balance compared to the Mustang and Porsche. That’s racing, though. I was pretty happy with the McLaren, and the Blackdog Speed Shop guys did their usual great job on the tuning and setup for the race. On an opening weekend, all you really want to do is maximize your points haul and set yourself up for the championship. You can’t win it on the first weekend but you definitely can put yourself in a hole. So we’re satisfied and will come back tomorrow and try to be a couple spots better.”TONY GAPLES, NO. 11 BLACKDOG SPEED SHOP McLAREN 570S GT4: “Conditions in qualifying hampered my car a little so I wasn’t really pleased with the effort. The crew made a few adjustments to the Blackdog Speed Shop McLaren before the race and I was able to pass several cars after the first lap. I never felt completely comfortable though, but the balance was consistent throughout. We are on a new tire this year and that will take some figuring out to see how to make it work. There were a couple of good battles out there, especially with the late pass for third past the Aston Martin. I knew I could have a chance to sweep around the outside going into the second corner. So that was a pretty good moment. There will be more work to do in tomorrow’s race. Traffic early on meant I couldn’t set a good lap time so we’ll plan to fight through the field again Sunday.”
About Blackdog Speed Shop
Blackdog Speed Shop Blackdog Speed Shop is a high-performance, custom car builder in the northern suburbs of Chicago specializing in ground-up car builds, high-performance upgrades for engines, transmissions, suspension and exhaust including computer and dyno tuning. Whether you have a modern muscle car, vintage muscle, 1930s hot rod or a foreign exotic, you will enjoy the Blackdog experience.
Ever dreamed of piloting a real World Challenge race car? Blackdog offers rental and “arrive and drive” racing in addition to purpose-built cars. Call Blackdog today at (855) 4-BLACKDOG to schedule an appointment or discuss the best way to put you in the driver’s seat!
Blackdog Speed Shop at a Glance
- Pirelli World Challenge GTS Drivers Championships – 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017
- Pirelli World Challenge GTS Team Championships – 2013, 2017, 2018
- Pirelli World Challenge GTS Manufacturers Championships – 2013, 2017, 2019
- Pirelli World Challenge GTS Victories: 29 – Most in class history