Grand Prix road course doubleheader first up on the IMS schedule
BROWNSBURG, IN (May 11, 2017) – The Belardi Auto Racing team has fond memories of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires competition, having visited the Freedom 100 victory lane on two occasions with Peter Dempsey in 2013 and Gabby Chaves in 2014. The team will spend two of the next three weekends at the ‘World’s Greatest Race Course’ as they take to the facility’s 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course this weekend (May 11-13) ahead of the Freedom 100 on the full 2.5-mile oval on May 26. Belardi’s driving trio of Aaron Telitz, Shelby Blackstock and Santiago Urrutia are all focused on bouncing back from a rough outing at Barber Motorsports Park in late April, and another visit to the famed Indianapolis podium is the only goal.
“After a tremendous opening weekend in St. Petersburg, we were all disappointed with our results at Barber, which has only served to motivate the team to perform to their full potential this weekend in Indy,” offered Belardi Auto Racing owner Brian Belardi. “These back-to-back races at the Speedway will provide us with the opportunity to return to form, and I know that all three of our drivers are itching to get back behind the wheel.”
Aaron Telitz enters the weekend sitting fourth in the championship standings, just one point out of third, thanks to his debut victory in the first race of the year in St. Petersburg, and a much-needed fifth in Alabama after a rough start to the weekend. The reigning Pro Mazda champion scored a runner-up finish in this Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires event last year, and has four podiums in six starts on the IMS road course in Pro Mazda and USF2000 competition. Running the Mazda Scholarship ‘Soul Red’ colors this season, Telitz will certainly be fighting for race wins and podiums.
It’s been a tough start to the season for last year’s runner-up Santiago Urrutia, but he has the talent and focus to put his Arrow Electronics / Belardi Auto Racing on the top of the podium in both races this weekend. Urrutia was involved in a first lap incident in the opening race in St. Petersburg, but came back with a strong second in race two. At Barber, he was taken out on the opening lap by an over-eager competitor in the first race of the doubleheader, and contact at the start of the second race dropped him down the order again. He is primed and ready for a breakout weekend which would elevate him into the championship fight. Last season, Santi was on the podium in both Indy Lights races on the road course, finishing second in both events. The Uruguayan was victorious at the track in his run to the Pro Mazda Championship title in 2014, scoring a win, two podiums and three top-fives in a tripleheader weekend. He has never finished outside the top-five on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.
Shelby Blackstock has been the team’s most consistent driver thus far in 2017, finishing all four races in the top-eight, highlighted by a fourth in St. Petersburg. This run of finishes has put Blackstock in sixth in the championship standings. The Nashville, TN native has four straight top-10 finishes in his four Indy Lights starts on the IMS road course, taking a personal best of seventh last year, and he was also second in Pro Mazda in 2014.
This weekend’s Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires races are officially titled as the ‘Grand Prix of Indianapolis Presented by Royal Purple Synthetic Oil Supporting Lupus Foundation of America’ in support of Lupus Awareness Month. All three Belardi Auto Racing cars will carry a decal as a means of raising awareness for this mysterious autoimmune disease, and the #RaceToEndLupus hashtag will be used throughout the event. A special donation page has been set up at lupus.org/racing.
The Indy Lights races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway take place on Friday, May 12 at 1:45 pm EDT and Saturday, May 13 at 1:15 pm EDT. The on-track action from IMS 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.
BELARDI AUTO RACING – DRIVER INFORMATION
SANTIAGO URRUITA – #5
Hometown: Montevideo, Uruguay
Residence: Miguelete, Uruguay
Sponsors: ARROW Electronics, BSE, ANCAP, Antel, Ministerio de Turismo, AgroLavalle, SuperMatch, Fadisol, SINTEPLAS, Secretaría Nacional de Deporte, BMW MotorHaus
Driver Input: “This weekend represents an opportunity to get big points! I like the track very much and we will have a great car. I know that this will be a good weekend.”
AARON TELITZ – #9
Hometown: Birchwood, WI
Residence: Minneapolis, MN
Sponsors: Mazda, Rice Lake Weighing Systems, Rising Star Racing, Morrie’s Chippewa Valley Mazda, Fred Thomas Resort, Cooper Tires, Bell Helmets, Sparco, Team USA Scholarship
Driver Input: “I can’t wait to get back on track at the IMS road course to start the month of May off right. It’ll be great to fully put a tough weekend at Barber behind us and to go full steam ahead to get back on the top step. The Belardi guys are as motivated as I am to get back on the form we started the season on.”
SHELBY BLACKSTOCK – #51
Hometown: Nashville, TN
Residence: Charlotte, NC
Sponsors: Starstruck, Sparco, AMPED Apparel/Optics, Arai Helmets
Driver Input: “Starting the greatest month in racing, I’m very excited to get back to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway! The first focus is on the road course for the IndyCar GP. Different than other weekends, we have a lot of track time to figure out the cars. Of course, with it being May in Indy, I hope the weather cooperates so we can get some good testing in before the weekend starts.”
Series: Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires
Event: Rounds #5/6 – Grand Prix of Indianapolis Presented by Royal Purple Synthetic Oil
Supporting Lupus Foundation of America
Date: May 11-13, 2017
WEEKEND SCHEDULE (all times Eastern Time Zone):
Friday, May 12
- Practice 1: 10:15 am – 11:00 am
- Qualifying 1: 1:45 pm – 2:15 pm
- Race 1: 5:50 pm – 6:50 pm
Saturday, May 13
- Qualifying 2: 9:20 am – 9:50 am
- Race 2: 1:15 pm – 2:25 pm
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 Grand Prix of Long Beach, 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.