St. Petersburg, FL – Andrew Aquilante took home two wins in the No. 32 Phoenix Performance Ford Mustang Boss 302 on the challenging streets of St. Petersburg to sweep the GTS opener for the Pirelli World Challenge.
Aquilante, the multiple-time SCCA National Champion took his Ford Mustang built by a small team in a Phoenixville, PA shop to two highly-popular wins in two days on the twisting Florida street circuit.
The team was able to win despite strong competition from a Chevrolet factory team.
The Phoenix Performance team and Aquilante leave St. Pete leading the Pirelli World Challenge GTS point standings, but with an uncertain future as the squad is searching for race or season-long sponsors to sustain the program.
In the first race on Friday afternoon, Aquilante turned a third-place starting position into a first place result in his Mustang.
At the start of the first race, Aquilante quickly moved into second and then took the lead on lap nine and ultimately the victory for Phoenix.
“Rolling out of the truck with a known quantity and prepared as best we could be was key. We had decent speed in practice and qualified third,” Aquilante said. “On Friday, we were in the middle of a setup change when news came about the track changes at turn three and we put everything back.”
Aquilante is referring to the track changes made to adjust the entry and apex of the third corner of the circuit due to an off-season repave.
A day later, Aquilante was on the pole for the second race of the weekend per his fastest lap in race one. After a slow start, Aquilante would pass for the lead on lap six to take another Pirelli World Challenge victory. Previously Aquilante has notched wins in both GTS and SprintX competition in the pro series.
“The biggest challenge of the weekend was the standing start for race two,” Aquilante continued. “I didn’t practice them to save the wear on the car and suffered for it: losing the lead into turn one. The Pirelli World Challenge series did a great job with the first race and giving us time to see and feel out the new turn three. I tried using the curb during those laps and felt confident I could use it without ending up in the fence. I could see Lawson and Parker not using it and knew that would make for a very good opportunity to pass. Once in the lead it was about managing tires and brakes and using the third place car to keep Lawson occupied in both races.”
Making it better was the local angle. Phoenix only made the decision to race at St. Petersburg just three weeks away from the event, with Aquilante recruiting three local long-time Phoenix crew members to help the team for the weekend. Aquilante, who oversaw the build of the car himself, tested at Sebring in January taking two wins in the SCCA Majors, and carefully conserved the car during practice and qualifying at St. Petersburg.
Watch the GTS action from St. Petersburg on CBS Sports Network on Wednesday, March 22 at 10:30pm Eastern or Saturday, March 25 at 2pm Eastern.
Phoenix on the web: http://www.phoenixperformance.net/, http://phoenixperformance-news.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/PhoenixAM
Team partners include Phoenix Performance, Ford Performance, Calvert Dynamics, Ron Davis Racing Radiators, Hawk Performance Brakes, Penske Racing Shocks, Varsity Landscaping, Brembo Brakes and Go Puck.
Phoenix Performance is a Pennsylvania tuner and race team management organization, owned and managed by Joe Aquilante, specializing in Corvettes, Mustangs, Camaros and high-end imports, providing maintenance, tuning and preparation services for domestic and import cars and trucks, along with performance upgrades and tuning for street and track cars. The team’s 32,000 square-foot race shop is located 30 miles west of downtown Philadelphia and has built over 35 SCCA Runoff-winning cars.
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Monty Mathisen | MathisenMedia
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