Santiago Urrutia fights his way to second victory of the season
MADISON, IL (August 26, 2017) – Belardi Auto Racing enjoyed a tremendously successful weekend in the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires event held at the 1.25-mile Gateway Motorsports Park oval, winning the race with Santiago Urrutia. The Uruguayan was quickest in Friday practice and then came within 0.001 mph from qualifying on the pole before battling Juan Piedrahita for the win in the Mazda St. Louis Indy Lights Oval Challenge on Saturday night. Belardi’s three additional drivers did not fare so well, as both Aaron Telitz and Chad Boat were involved in incidents that took them out of the race. Shelby Blackstock spun on the opening lap, losing a lap, but then soldiered on to a ninth-place finish that came with some tight wheel-to-wheel racing.
“Coming off a fantastic weekend at Mid-Ohio and a great test here at Gateway, we knew we had the momentum we needed to race for the win,” stated Team Owner Brian Belardi. “We went in knowing that if Santi wants any chance at this championship, he had to win, and he got the job done! He drove a stellar race and came out on top. We are extremely happy and very proud of him.”
Urrutia made his statement immediately, topping the Friday night practice session before qualifying off-pole for the race with an average speed of 160.822 mph, missing the pole by just 0.001 mph. Blackstock and Telitz started the weekend from outside the top-10, but worked throughout the 45-minute practice session on Friday to find improved balance. In the timed two-lap qualifying session, Blackstock was 10th and Telitz was 13th. The team welcomed Chad Boat to the tent at Gateway, prepping a car for his Indy Lights series debut. Boat’s focus was to gain experience and he logged 50 laps on Friday and qualified 14th, just over a second behind Urrutia.
After some chaos at the start of the 75-lap race, Urrutia settled into second behind polesitter Juan Piedrahita after swapping the spot with Kyle Kaiser. Santi eventually made the move for the lead with a strong overtake inside of Piedrahita on lap 43 and he led through to a lap 63 caution that put Boat on the sidelines. Piedrahita got by on the ensuring restart, but Nico Jamin spun in Turn 1, bringing out the yellow out again. When the green flag flew, Urrutia once again got to the inside of Piedrahita, this time in Turn 3, to take control of the lead. Santi led the final two laps to score a 0.4518-second triumph. It was Santi’s second win of the year and puts him eight points ahead of Colton Herta in the battle for second in the Indy Lights Championship.
Blackstock did not have a smooth opening lap, getting caught out by cold tires and the new asphalt surface. Shelby got loose in Turn 3 and was able to control the slide, but he and Telitz made contact as Telitz was navigating the corner. Blackstock pitted and lost a lap, while the damage to Telitz ended his day early despite the team’s heroic efforts to repair his car and get him back in the race. Boat was doing a great job in keeping clean as he was lapped by the series veterans, however, late in the race another driver failed to leave the necessary room while passing him in Turn 1, running over Chad’s left rear. As he slowed, he was then drilled by yet another driver who failed to slow down as he approached the incident.
The Belardi Auto Racing team will now head back to the shop to get their Dallara IL-15s prepped for the final race of the season, which will take place at Watkins Glen International this weekend (September 1-3).
All the on-track action from Watkins Glen 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 – ROUND 15 – AUGUST 25-26, 2017
GATEWAY MOTORSPORTS PARK – MADISON, IL
SANTIAGO URRUTIA – #5
Qualifying: 2nd – 160.822 mph
Race: Start – 2nd / Finish – 1st
Driver Quote: “It was one of the best races of the year – competitive, clean and really exciting. It was good racing against Juan. He was quicker than me on the straight and I was better in Turns 1 and 2, so when he made a small mistake in Turn 1, I was able to get past. When the red came out, I was worried because I thought he would be able to pass me on the restart. When that happened, I knew it was my last chance and I had to try to get by. I’m happy – I did what I had to do today; the rest was out of our control. We had a difficult start to the season but the second half we have been really strong, and I hope races like this will help me be in IndyCar next year.”
AARON TELITZ – #9
Qualifying: 13th – 159.177 mph
Race: Start – 13th / Finish – 15th
Driver Quote: “It was a really tough weekend in St. Louis. We never found the speed we needed to be at the front. And after getting a good start in the race, my car was very loose in the first corners like a lot of the other drivers and I ended up not being able to avoid Shelby’s slide and ended my day in the pits with repairs. I can’t wait to get to Watkins Glen and leave it all on the track to finish my season on a high.”
SHELBY BLACKSTOCK – #51
Qualifying: 10th – 159.719 mph
Race: Start – 10th / Finish – 9th
Driver Quote: “I have mixed emotions about our Gateway race. Qualifying didn’t go great, qualifying 10th, but I knew that we would have a good race car. I had a good start but as I was trying to go on the outside of Turn 3, the car came around. It was probably due to colder tires since I had done the move in testing. I saved the spin but got collected, which gave us a flat. It was really unfortunate because the team gave me a great car! We were able to pass cars and have good long run pace. Onto Watkins Glen!”
CHAD BOAT – #84
Qualifying: 15th – 154.999 mph
Race 1: Start – 15th / Finish – 14th
Driver Quote: “The weekend wasn’t what we wanted but the Belardi Auto Racing team worked hard and gave me all they could. I learned every lap on the track and I’m thankful for the opportunity.”
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-Gateway-Urrutia-Win.jpg (1500 x 1000 pixels web-ready JPEG)
Possible Caption: Belardi Auto Racing’s Santiago Urrutia won in Indy Lights return to Gateway Motorsports Park, keeping him second in the championship standings
(Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography)