INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Just over a year ago, the Belardi Auto Racing crew was on top of the world, having just won the biggest Indy Lights race – the Freedom 100 – for the second straight year. In 2013, Belardi’s Peter Dempsey triumphed in a four-wide photo finish that enjoyed worldwide media attention, and last year, Gabby Chaves won over Matthew Brabham in yet another photo finish, providing crucial points that would eventually help the team win the coveted Mazda Road to Indy series championship. Now that Chaves has moved to the Verizon IndyCar Series, Team Principal Brian Belardi has two new pilots in the seats of his trademark red and white cars for this year’s Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires program, and both Felix Serralles and Juan Piedrahita are riding a wave of momentum heading into this Friday’s main event. Pre-race testing for the Freedom 100 has been very positive for the Belardi duo, as they topped a recent oval test at Chicagoland Speedway, and were also near the top of the speed charts of Monday’s official series test on the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The team has the speed and their drivers are excited about the potential for victory at the ‘World’s Greatest Race Course’.
“Our win last year in the Freedom 100 was a dream come true, and it gave us incredible confidence and momentum that carried through the remainder of the year,” offered Belardi. “Our drivers have shown flashes of great speed this year, but luck has definitely not played our way. The pace we’ve shown at the oval tests echo what we’ve done on the street and road courses, with sporadic results. Right now, I’m happy with the confidence that the team has heading into this week. We’ll give Juan and Felix the best cars we can, and then it will be up to them to go out and perform. The Freedom 100 has been one of the sport’s best races over the past two years, and I expect to see my guys in the middle of the fight for the win once again.”
After an extremely successful test on the high-speed Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, IL last week, Serralles and Piedrahita travelled with the team back to Indianapolis for Monday’s test on the big track. It was Serralles’ first opportunity to circulate the incredible facility and he took to it quickly, as he and Piedrahita posted two of the fastest laps of the morning session at over 194 mph. As the team worked on different set-ups with each car, they learned a great deal and picked up the pace, developing a strong baseline set-up while providing the drivers with crucial track time.
Belardi’s Indy Lights drivers will take to the track for a single three-hour practice session at 9:00 am Eastern on Thursday, May 21 to begin the Freedom 100 events. In the afternoon, they will qualify for the race during a 1:15 pm track session, with each driver turning two laps at speed with the two-lap average giving them their official qualifying time. The Freedom 100 will take place on Friday, May 22 at 12:30 pm, immediately before the Verizon IndyCar Series Pit Stop Contest. Live timing and live commentary will be available on the series website (www.indylights.com) and on the new Road to Indy app, which is available free for iPhones and Android devices through iTunes or Google Play.
BELARDI AUTO RACING — DRIVER INFORMATION
Felix Serralles – #4
Point Standings: 5th — 78 points
Best Finish: 3rd — Long Beach
Driver Quote: “I’m quite happy with the results from Monday’s test at IMS, having finished consistently in the top-three. We had a small turbo failure, but luckily it didn’t really affect us too much in terms of track time. I love oval racing, it’s a completely new form of racing for me, and a different way of learning about what the car does in the corner. You’ve got to have big balls to keep it pinned and understand that the car will move around a bit through the corners going at 200 mph! I think it’s going to be a really fun race. I’m sure there will be a lot of lead changes and I can’t wait to get back out there again.”
Juan Piedrahita – #5
Point Standings: 8th — 67 points
Best Finish: 6th — St. Petersburg — Race 1
Driver Input: “”I think we have a great car for the Freedom 100. The Belardi guys have done a great job with the superspeedway set-up and we look very solid on track, for sure. I believe we can win this race, so, I’m very excited.”