Urrutia and Telitz both reach podium during Canadian street race weekend
TORONTO, ONTARIO (July 16, 2017) – Belardi Auto Racing headed north of the border to Canada this past weekend as the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires championship series took to the streets of Toronto for a doubleheader weekend, and the team came away with a pair of podium finishes amidst three top-five results. Aaron Telitz delivered two top-five finishes, including a strong second in Sunday’s weekend capper, advancing impressively from his row four starting position. Santiago Urrutia was also able to drive to the podium, advancing to third in Race 1 to extend his podium streak to three straight race weekends. Shelby Blackstock showed great promise at the beginning of the weekend on the 1.786-mile, 11-turn temporary street circuit, but he was plagued by a freak mechanical failure in Race 1 and found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time at the start of Race 2 and will now look forward to the next event on the schedule at Mid-Ohio.
The team’s drivers had just a single practice session on Friday ahead of qualifying for the opening race of the doubleheader weekend, and the Belardi trio was quick from the start, occupying three positions in the top-five. Urrutia was second in the afternoon run on a very green race track, followed immediately by Telitz in third and Blackstock in fifth.
Extra speed eluded the squad in Saturday morning qualifying for the opening race, as the temporary track was evolving rapidly with additional grip due to all the rubber than was being laid down by the different series that were on the weekend schedule. Urrutia was the quickest of the three, posting the fifth fastest time of the session. Blackstock laid down the ninth fastest speed, while Telitz was 11th in the order, setting the stage for his impressive run forward.
The first race of the weekend took place at 1:00 pm on Saturday afternoon, and as expected, Urrutia was ready to take advantage of any opening at the start, diving to the inside in turn one as the field battled for position. Santi emerged in fourth and then began his advance to third by putting relentless pressure on Mathias Leist. Urrutia’s constant hounding was too much for Leist, forcing him into a mistake in turn eight, where Leist overcooked the corner and made contact with the tire barrier. The yellow flag came out to slow the field, which brought second place driver Zachary Claman DeMelo back to Urrutia. On the restart, Santi slipped by for second at the end of Lakeshore Boulevard, but Claman Demelo was eventually able to get back by, and Urrutia would cross the line in third after holding off the advances of Colton Herta. It was Santi’s fifth podium of the year and moved him to fourth in the championship standings.
Telitz was also strong out of the gate in Race 1, moving forward from his 11th place starting position to fifth place in the final tally. Aaron was involved in several great battles throughout the race, and took advantage of attrition as well, staying out of trouble to post a stellar result. Unlike his teammates, Blackstock was not even able to get off pit lane due to a broken halfshaft. The team worked feverishly to get the car repaired to get Shelby on-track, and despite being seven laps down, he finished the race and was officially classified in 11th.
After post-race debriefing, the Belardi Auto Racing crew made successful adjustments for Sunday morning’s qualifying session for Race 2. With the newfound speed, Urrutia timed in second to secure a spot on the outside of the front row, while Blackstock and Telitz also moved up the order, sitting sixth and seventh respectively.
The start of the race was chaotic, as Nico Jamin tried unsuccessfully to go three-wide on the outside of Urrutia in turn one, making contact with the wall. Blackstock was left with nowhere to go, climbing Jamin’s right rear tire and launching his Dallara IL-15 up and over him. The contact and the force of the landing caused significant damage to his car, ending a very tough weekend for Shelby.
Urrutia and Telitz were able to get through unscathed to sit third and fifth for the restart, but Santi’s day would end early when engine trouble left him stranded on the track just 11 laps into the battle. After a strong run on Saturday, this mechanical DNF has dropped him to sixth in the standings with five races remaining on the schedule.
Telitz picked up the Belardi flag and ran with it on the ensuing restart, getting past Claman Demelo in turn three, moving into third. The eventual departure of leader Colton Herta due to suspension failure moved Aaron to second in the order, providing Belardi Auto Racing with its second podium of the weekend. Telitz’s pair of top-fives have advanced him to fifth in the championship, 77 points behind the leader. The team now has two drivers still in mathematical contention for the title and they are focused on winning races through to the finale at Watkins Glen in September.
The Belardi Auto Racing team will be back in action in just over a week’s time when the crew loads up and heads to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for a July 28-30 doubleheader.
All the on-track action from Mid-Ohio will be streamed live on the Mazda Road to Indy app or through the MRTI.TV website (www.roadtoindy.tv), as will the entire Indy Lights season. You can also follow along on www.indylights.com and www.indycar.com. Be sure to follow Belardi Auto Racing on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to stay updated on all the action.
BELARDI AUTO RACING – DRIVER RESULTS AND QUOTES
INDY LIGHTS – ROUNDS 11/12 – JULY 14-16, 2017
GRAND PRIX OF TORONTO – TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA
SANTIAGO URRUTIA – #5
Qualifying 1: 5th – 1:05.8487
Qualifying 2: 2nd – 1:05.0652
Race 1: Start – 5th / Finish – 3rd
Race 2: Start – 2nd / Finish – 11th
Driver Quote: “A weekend like this one in Toronto is so hard for me to stomach, because we fought so hard on Friday and Saturday to get our set-up the way it needed to be. I battled as hard as I could for the third-place finish on Saturday, and to have an engine problem on Sunday hurts so bad. I’m proud of my team for working together to give us the best cars possible, and podiums for Aaron and I show that. All I can do now is win races if I’m to get back in the championship, so that’s what I’m going to do. I won both races at Mid-Ohio last year, so my only goal is to do the same when we get there at the end of the month. I will not give up.”
AARON TELITZ – #9
Qualifying 1: 11th – 1:06.2250
Qualifying 2: 7th – 1:05.8102
Race 1: Start – 11th / Finish – 5th
Race 2: Start – 7th / Finish – 2nd
Driver Quote: “We had a strong weekend and the team worked hard to give me the set-up I needed. The car was great on Sunday. Starting seventh and making onto the podium in P2 was awesome. I made some pretty risky passes early on, especially with Zach (Claman Demelo), but we raced clean, and he had a go at me later on in the race too. Two top-fives is big for us, and I’m ready to head to Mid-Ohio to close up in the championship fight.”
SHELBY BLACKSTOCK – #51
Qualifying 1: 9th – 1:06.1556
Qualifying 2: 6th – 1:05.7661
Race 1: Start – 9th / Finish – 11th
Race 2: Start – 6th / Finish – 13th
Driver Quote: “There’s just not much to say about the weekend. Everything that could have gone wrong went wrong. What makes it worse is that the car was good. I’m just looking forward to Mid-Ohio.”
Direct Contact: Brian Belardi
About Belardi Auto Racing:
Belardi Auto Racing is an organization comprised of experienced individuals in the racing industry with an aggressive growth strategy and a strong commitment to finishing up front. No stranger to winning, team members having been achieving success in both the amateur and pro ranks for over a decade, winning numerous junior formula car races and championships. Based in Brownsburg, IN, Belardi Auto Racing won the 2014 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires championship and has scored multiple races wins in both Indy Lights and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda, including the Freedom 100 at Indianapolis and prestigious races like the Long Beach Grand Prix, the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and the Toronto Indy and events at tracks such as the Milwaukee Mile, Pocono, Road America, Watkins Glen and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Photo: Belardi-Lights-Toronto-Telitz.jpg (1500 x 1000 pixels web-ready JPEG)
Possible Caption: Belardi Auto Racing’s Aaron Telitz turned in a strong weekend performance in Toronto with two top-fives, including a second-place finish on Sunday
(Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography)