Blackdog Speed Shop Back on Podium
in Racing Return at St. Petersburg
Gaples scores third-place GT4 finish in second GT America race with No. 5 Camaro
ST. PETERSBURG, Florida (March 4, 2023) – Blackdog Speed Shop and Tony Gaples found themselves in a familiar spot in its return to racing in SRO America.
Gaples, driving the No. 5 Blackdog Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R, finished third in Saturday’s 40-minute GT America race on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida. It capped a successful weekend as Gaples got back behind of the wheel of the Camaro in competition for the first time since 2018 and put the Blackdog team on the GT4 podium as a welcome-back gift.
Gaples began sixth in Saturday’s caution-filled race but picked up three spots throughout. After a restart following the first of two lengthy yellow-flag periods, Gaples moved into the top-five and then circulated the 1.8-mile, 14-turn street circuit behind the safety car until the race went green again for the final eight minutes.
Gaples gained another position on the first lap after green and advanced to the podium on the race’s final lap.
It was a well-deserved result for the Blackdog crew after working late Friday to repair the No. 5 Camaro the weekend’s first 40-minute race, which ran into darkness while Gaples was solidly in the top-five. The team replaced the Camaro’s nose and splitter, left-front fender, left-side door, rear deck lid, rear wing and left-rear axle to get the GT4.R and Gaples ready for Saturday’s race.
That aside, the return to SRO America was a successful one for Gaples and Blackdog Speed Shop with no major issues during the two practice sessions and qualifying. The team will continue its full-season campaign in GT America at Sonoma Raceway on March 31-April 2.
TONY GAPLES, NO. 5 BLACKDOG SPEED SHOP CHEVROLET CAMARO GT4.R: “We can be proud of how the weekend ended in our first race in this series. I can’t thank the Blackdog crew enough for the work this weekend, especially in putting the car back together Friday night and Saturday. I wouldn’t have been on the podium, much less in the race at all, without their work.
“The schedule became more compressed Friday with issues out of our control, so that really limited the time I had to get into any kind of rhythm back in this car. Forty minutes of racing isn’t a lot of time in these events, especially on street circuits. Running in the dark Friday wasn’t ideal and hopefully we can do something about that going forward. But it’s nice to pay back the crew for all the work they did to fix the car for the second race. This Camaro is solid and reliable, so I was able to hold my own against some of the much newer machinery. It’ll be nice to get some good track time at Sonoma to help us get back into the racing groove.”
RAY SORENSON, TEAM MANAGER, BLACKDOG SPEED SHOP: “For this being our first race back in a few years, the team and Tony did a great job to get on the podium today. Our guys did fantastic work getting the car sorted after the damage from Friday night. Today’s result came down to the hard work they put in getting the Camaro fixed and pointed. We knew it would be difficult going against all of the newer GT4 cars so our goals were modest coming here. Tony ran in the top-five for most of the weekend and deserved a better result than we ended up with Friday. The late night was worth it seeing him come home third in class and giving our guys an extra reason to celebrate. It’s a feeling we want more of the rest of the season, and I think we’re well on our way.”
Blackdog Speed Shop at a Glance
Pirelli GT4 America/GTS Driver Championships: 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2020
Pirelli GT4 America/GTS Team Championships: 2013, 2017, 2018, 2020
Pirelli GT4 America/GTS Manufacturer Championships: 2013, 2017, 2019, 2020
Pirelli GT4 America/GTS Victories: 41 – Most in class history