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O’Connell, Aschenbach Win at Houston, Claim Championships

Johnny O’Connell, Cadillac crowned Pirelli World Challenge champions…

Aschenbach took the lead from Baldwin after the green flag on Lap 3. But Aschenbach needed Baldwin to finish either third or fourth or worse, depending on bonus points gained, in order to overtake the season-long GTS class points leader.

“The biggest thing I knew coming in, we had to win and lead most laps, and hope things fell our way and they did,” said Aschenbach. “I got a good start and a jump on Jack to get the lead. Peter and Mark eventually caught up and I’m glad it ended how it ended. More importantly, big thanks and job well done to everyone at Blackdog Speed Shop and Chevrolet.”

Baldwin held second most of the race but as the afternoon progressed, pressure began to mount in Baldwin’s rear view mirror. Peter Cunningham, of Milwaukee, WI in the No. 42 Acura/HPD/RealTime Racing Acura TSX and Mark Wilkins, of Toronto, in the No. 38 B.R.A.K.E.S. Kia Optima turbo were running laps at a fast enough clip to catch, and eventually pass, Baldwin.

Cunningham advanced to second and Wilkins, who was running two to three seconds per lap faster than Aschenbach in the waning stages of the race, simply ran out of time. With a fourth place finish Baldwin lost the title by just 12 points.

Andy Lee, of Colorado Springs, CO in the No. 20 Best IT/Crown Seven/Bondurant Chevrolet Camaro, rounded out his season with fifth in GTS. One of Cunningham’s earlier moves, past Lee, was awarded the Invisible Glass Clean Pass of the Race Award.

Of note, local driver Don Istook, of River Oaks, TX, took home the Optima Batteries Best Start Award with a gain of seven positions at the end of the first green lap in the No. 01 Milltek Exhaust/STaSIS/REVO Audi TT RS. Istook finished 14th in the GTS class. Also of note, Brian Kleeman, of Towson, MD was the Sunoco Hard Charger Award winner after advancing seven spots from his grid position by the checkered flag in the No. 07 DXD Clutches/DWW Motorsports Nissan 370Z.

The season finale airs on Sunday, October 20, at 4 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

HOUSTON, Texas – Results from Sunday’s 29 lap 47.386 mile Pirelli World Challenge Championship Pirelli World Challenge GT/GTS Round 14 race, part of the Houston Grand Prix at Houston Street Course, with finishing position, class, starting position in parentheses, driver, hometown, car, laps and reason out (if any).

1. GT, (2), Johnny O’Connell, Flowery Branch, Ga., Cadillac CTS-V.R, 29.
2. GT, (4), Randy Pobst, Gainesville, Ga., Volvo S60, 29, -1.390.
3. GT, (3), Andy Pilgrim, Boca Raton, Fla., Cadillac CTS-V.R, 29, -37.439.
4. GT, (6), Rene Rast, Frankfort, Germany, Audi R8 LMS, 29, -1:08.675.
5. GT, (1), James Sofronas, Villa Park, Calif., Audi R8 LMS, 28, -1 lap.
6. GT, (5), Alex Figge, Denver, Colo., Volvo S60, 3, Crash.

1. GTS, (8), Lawson Aschenbach, Jupiter, Fla., Chevrolet Camaro, 28.
2. GTS, (12), Peter Cunningham, Milwaukee, Wis., Acura TSX, 28, -.001.
3. GTS, (9), Mark Wilkins, Toronto, Ontario, Kia Optima, 28, -1.140.
4. GTS, (7), Jack Baldwin, Marietta, Ga., Porsche Cayman S, 28, -7.501.
5. GTS, (10), Andy Lee, Colorado Springs, Colo., Chevrolet Camaro, 28, -8.057.
6. GTS, (11), Alec Udell, The Woodlands, Texas, Ford Mustang Boss 302R, 28, -19.290.
7. GTS, (18), Jim Taggart(R), Raleigh, N.C., Lotus Exige, 27, -1:03.396.
8. GTS, (15), Brad Adams, New Orleans, La., Ford Mustang Boss 302S, 27, -1 lap.
9. GTS, (14), Nick Esayian, San Diego, Calif., Acura TSX, 27, -1 lap.
10. GTS, (13), Tony Gaples, Libertyville, Ill., Chevrolet Camaro, 27, -1 lap.
11. GTS, (23), Brian Kleeman, Towson, Md., Nissan 370 Z, 27, -1 lap.
12. GTS, (16), Nic Jonsson, Sweden, , Kia Optima Turbo, 27, -1 lap.
13. GTS, (19), Roger Rodas(R), El Salvador, , Ford Boss 302S, 27, -1 lap.
14. GTS, (25), Don Istook, River Oaks, Texas, Audi TT RS, 26, -2 lap.
15. GTS, (22), Mitch Landry(R), Lakes Charles, La., Ford Mustang Boss 302S, 26, -2 lap.
16. GTS, (20), Buz McCall, Boca Raton, Fla., Porsche Cayman S, 26, -2 lap.
17. GTS, (17), Ardee Toppe, The Woodlands, Texas, Ford Mustang Boss 302, 18, Crash.
18. GTS, (21), Ric Bushey, Virginia Beach, Va., Nissan 370 Z, 1, Mech.
19. GTS, (24), Robert Stout, Brownsburg, Ind., Scion FR-S, 0, Elect.

Time of race: 42 minutes, 04.492 seconds.
Average speed: 67.573 mph
Margin of victory: 1.390 Seconds (GT), 0.001 Second (GTS)
Lap leaders: Laps 1-16, #14 James Sofronas; laps 17-25, #6 Randy Pobst; laps 26-29, #3 Johnny O’Connell (GT), Lap 1, #73 Jack Baldwin; Laps 2-28, #10 Lawson Aschenbach (GTS)
Fastest race lap: #3 Johnny O’Connell, 1:17.583 (75.820 mph) (GT), #38 Mark Wilkins, 1:21.338 (72.320 mph)
Fastest qualifier: #14 James Sofronas, (GT), #73 Jack Baldwin (GTS)

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