Belardi Aiming for Freedom 100 Repeat
 May 19, 2014| 
  • Team News

Team ready for Indianapolis Motor Speedway with two drivers capable of tasting champagne

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – When the checkered flag flew to end last year’s Indy Lights Freedom 100, Brian Belardi and his Belardi Auto Racing crew were on top of the world.  The team had just scored its first series victory in the closest finish in the history of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, thanks to a four-wide thrilling finish that was topped by the team’s veteran driver Peter Dempsey.

This new season of the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires has had its highs and lows, namely two more big victories, beginning with a win at the prestigious Long Beach Grand back in April at the hands of Gabby Chaves.  The Columbian-American scored for the team again at Barber Motorsports Park later in the month. Chaves was part of the exciting result in the Freedom 100 last year and aims to improve his runner-up position by one spot during this trip to IMS.  Belardi’s impressive rookie driver Alex Baron continues to turn heads, having garnering his second podium finish of the year in the second race of the Grand Prix of Indianapolis less than two weeks ago.  This will be his Freedom 100 debut, and his first oval event, so the focus will be on experience and a strong finish.  The team will also welcome a new driver to the program for Indy, as race veteran Chase Austin will be back for his fourth Freedom 100.

For Chaves, this event will be a chance to recover from a rough weekend during the Grand Prix of Indianapolis.  Engine troubles scuttled a chance to close on the point leader in Race #1, while more issues, including contact with his primary title contender, turned Race #2 into a disappointment as well.  That said, Chaves is a fighter and his incredible poised and mature, and a big comeback is certainly expected.  Chaves and his race engineer Geoff Fickling have been very connected this year, and you can be sure that they will once again find the form that has already produced a pair of wins in 2014.  Gabby currently sits third in the championship standings, just 14 points out of the lead.

French pilot Alex Baron has been a welcome addition to the Belardi team, and the crew has worked diligently to focus his extreme talent and dial back the 100% all-in approach he brings to each and every session.  The results have been impressive, as Baron has been in the top-five all year long in terms of outright speed.  With more consistency and an understanding of the goals for each session, in the four Indy Lights weekends so far in 2013, he has been to the podium twice (Barber and Indianapolis) and has finished in the top-six in five of the six races.

“This is a very special weekend for me,” Baron explained. “It will be my first race on an oval, but it also feels very special to be racing before the Indy 500, on the same track, just a couple of days earlier. I am sure that my team and I will be competitive, because they have won here last year, and hopefully we will be able to do the same thing this weekend!”

New for this event will be the addition of Chase Austin to the Belardi tent, as he will be running the No. 0 UNAIDS/Starting Grid entry.  This will be Austin’s fourth straight start in the Freedom 100.  His best result came in 2013, when he finished eighth.

“I am extremely happy being back in the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires series, and to race in the Freedom 100 with the defending champions, Belardi Auto Racing, is a great opportunity,” said Austin. “Obviously, I am with a team that has the ability to run up front, and considering our new partnership supporting the UNAIDS ‘Protect the Goal’ campaign, and me becoming a global sporting ambassador for the program, I definitely want to do well for them, American Honda, Starting Grid and everybody who continues to believe in me.”

Belardi’s Indy Lights drivers will be on-track on Thursday, May 22 at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday morning for three hours of practice (9 a.m. – 12 p.m.), which will give the team ample of time to get their cars dialed in for the afternoon qualifying session.  The drivers will have a one-hour qualifying window from 1:15 – 2:15 p.m.  Pre-race activities for Freedom 100 get rolling at 12:15 p.m. on Friday, May 23, and green flag in expected to fly at around at 12:30 p.m. on Friday afternoon.  The race will be shown live on the NBC Sports Network. Check with you local cable or satellite provider for channel listings.

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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, Ind., Belardi Auto Racing contests multi-car efforts in both the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires and Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda series. Goal-oriented and focused on developing the next stars of motorsports, Belardi Auto Racing won in both the Indy Lights and USF2000 Championships in 2013.

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