For Immediate Release: May 27, 2017
Contact: Brian Belardi – Belardi Auto Racing
Prepared by: ProMedia Motorsports PR
Additional photos available upon request
TELITZ ADVANCES TO SECOND FOR BELARDI AUTO RACING IN FREEDOM 100
Urrutia’s spirited drive adds another top-five to strong overall IMS performance
INDIANAPOLIS, IN (May 26, 2017) – Belardi Auto Racing has enjoyed much success at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, having won the Indy Lights’ Freedom 100 on two occasions, and they came extremely close to notching their third victory on Friday. Team driver Aaron Telitz qualified sixth for the most prestigious race on the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires calendar and then proceeded to power forward and into a battle with the eventual race winner, Matheus Leist. Telitz challenged on the outside on more than one occasion, but was not able to complete the pass, scoring an important second place finish that brings him back into the championship battle. Santiago Urrutia scored his best Freedom 100 finish with a solid fifth, while Shelby Blackstock battled handling issues to finish 11th.
“The second half of the race was rough on my nerves,” admitted Brian Belardi, Team Owner. “Aaron and Santi were both on the move, and then Aaron made his run at the lead. He put it all out there, and that’s all we can ask for, and he made a couple of thrilling runs around the outside trying to win the race. Santi’s contact with the wall caught us all off-guard, and I’m happy that he was able to make it to the end. We’ll take a second and head for Road America.”
Rain wreaked havoc on Thursday’s schedule, cancelling two morning practice sessions on the ultra-fast 2.5-mile oval, pushing any potential track activity to the afternoon. The track eventually dried and series officials made the decision to run a 20-minute practice session ahead of qualifying. Telitz was quickest of the team’s trio, setting the sixth fastest two-lap average speed at over 197 mph. Blackstock timed in ninth, while Urrutia was 12th, setting up his stellar run in Friday’s Freedom 100.
The race got underway after the official opening ceremonies, which included a stunning rendition of the national anthem by Shelby’s mother Reba McEntire. The opening corners of the 40-lap race kicked off the event with some excitement, as two drivers got together in turn two, which scattered the field behind them. All three of the Belardi Auto Racing pilots were able to get through unscathed to begin their individual races following the single-file restart.
Telitz moved quickly from sixth on the restart and was into the top-four before the halfway point. The 2016 Pro Mazda champion steered his ‘Soul Red’ Mazda Scholarship #9 past Neil Alberico for third and then dispatched of Dalton Kellett for second as he set off to reel in the leader. Aaron cut the gap and eventually made his bid for the lead with outside runs into turn one and turn three around Leist, but he was just not able to complete the pass. Kellett slipped back by in the late-going, but Telitz got a better run coming off of turn four racing to the checkered flag to finish second in his Freedom 100 debut.
Urrutia was on the move as well, coming from deep in the field, and he never stopped advancing through the 40 laps of the race. After slipping past Alberico for fourth, he challenged Kellett for third before settling into position. With two laps remaining, driving his car on the ragged edge, Santi’s right rear tire made contact with the wall on the exit of turn two. The damage to his wheel was extensive, but it held up over the final circuits to reward him with a strong fifth place finish as he lost a position in the process.
Blackstock started well and found himself in a heated battle for ninth with point leader Kyle Kaiser during the first half of the race. In the second half, he fought two-time race winner Nico Jamin for tenth, eventually finishing 11th.
With these results, Telitz advances to fourth in the championship standings. Urrutia continues to recover from early-season troubles and now sits seventh in the points, while Blackstock is ninth overall. The team is now preparing for a test outing at Road America, where the Indy Lights series will visit on the June 23-25 weekend.
BELARDI AUTO RACING – DRIVER RESULTS AND QUOTES
INDY LIGHTS – ROUND 7 – MAY 26, 2017
INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY – INDIANAPOLIS, IN
SANTIAGO URRUTIA – #5
Qualifying: 12th – 195.861 mph
Driver Quote: “I think it was a good race, coming from 12th to finish fourth. It was a shame that I was fighting for the podium before I hit the wall, but if qualifying had not gone the way it did on Thursday, I think I would have been fighting for the win. It is what it is, and it was good points for the championship with the top-five. I know I’m looking forward to the test at Road America on Wednesday, as we all want to have a good car for that event so that we can focus on winning the race.”
AARON TELITZ – #9
Qualifying: 6th – 197.216 mph
Driver Quote: “What an awesome day here at IMS. Starting sixth place, I knew that we had a car to run up front and hopefully challenge for the win. The Belardi guys gave me a great car to work my way through traffic. Avoiding the first lap challenge was a little hairy as I was just starting to open my hands as the guys were spinning and so I had to pull back down to the inside. From there, I was able to make good, clean passes to get back to the front. I worked hard to get past Matheus, but I think that he was a little more trimmed out than us. I really believe that if we could have gotten into the lead, he would have struggled in traffic, and he might have not been able to get back to the front as easily. Obviously, I’m happy to leave here with second place, but I’m bummed I didn’t win. You come to Indy hoping to win. We didn’t get it, but I’ll take second place.”
SHELBY BLACKSTOCK – #51
Qualifying: 9th – 196.417 mph
Driver Quote: “Today wasn’t the day that we were looking for coming back to IMS. From the green flag, the car felt very strange, very loose, unpredictable, and not a ton of fun to drive. Our set-up was about the same as my teammates, but our feedback was totally opposite. The team is looking through the data to find out what happened, but all I can do is put this month of May behind me and get ready for our test at Road America next week.”
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-Freedom100-Telitz.jpg (1500 x 1000 pixels web-ready JPEG)
Possible Caption: Aaron Telitz drove his ‘Soul Red’ Mazda Scholarship / Belardi Auto Racing entry to second in this year’s Indy Lights Freedom 100 (Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography)