Blackdog Speed Shop Getting Up to Speed in GT America
Pair of top-10 finishes at Sonoma in tough and crowded GT4 category for Gaples
SONOMA, Calif. (April 2, 2023) – Blackdog Speed Shop arrived at Sonoma Raceway looking to add to its momentum from a podium from the opening weekend of GT America Powered by AWS a month ago.
Hopes and expectations were high given the history of success at Sonoma by the team and driver Tony Gaples. However, the team came away with 10th- and seventh-place finish with the No. 5 Camaro at the 12-turn, 2.51-mile road course in the heart of California Wine Country.
Battling back from a mechanical problem during testing at Sonoma, Gaples and Blackdog Speed Shop made some in-roads during Friday’s two practice sessions and ran mid-pack in each. The team elected to make a bold choice on tire selection for qualifying that saw Gaples start 11th in class for Saturday’s race.
As has been his strength, Gaples made up ground in the early going and advanced three spots in the first two laps. However, the pace of the newer GT4 cars and the overtaking GT3 runners pushed him back a couple of positions at the end.
Gaples’ pace in the first race netted him the eighth grid position for Sunday’s finale. The Blackdog Speed Shop crew made a handful of chassis changes overnight to try and optimize tire performance and give Gaples a little sharper weapon.
The race was another learning experience as Blackdog Speed Shop gathered more tire and performance data through Gaples’ run to seventh by the end.
Blackdog Speed Shop and the No. 5 Camaro will return to the racetrack for the next GT America weekend at NOLA Motorsports Park on April 28-30.
TONY GAPLES, NO. 5 BLACKDOG SPEED SHOP CHEVROLET CAMARO GT4.R: “The biggest thing we are lacking right now is pace. The guys on the team are doing a good job to keep getting the Camaro sorted after some time off the track. We’ll get there but we’re not where we want to be on overall performance compared to the rest of the field. This class is really deep and really tough. GT4 racing has come a long way since we were last in the Camaro here a few years ago. A newer tire that we don’t have experience with is another factor that our team is having to learn. We have some work to get to where we want to be and I’m confident we’ll get there. This team knows how to make cars go fast. We’ll get things sorted in another race or two.”