Belardi Auto Racing Wins 2017 Team Championship
 September 6, 2017| 
  • Team News

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – Belardi Auto Racing capped the 2017 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires season in style, dominating the podium at Watkins Glen International to win the prestigious Team Championship for the first time.  Aaron Telitz completed the bookend sweep of the season by scoring his second Indy Lights victory with an impressive display of wet weather driving, holding off the advances of his teammate Santiago Urrutia in treacherous conditions.

Telitz began the schedule with a win in the opening round at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in March, so this victory was a positive end to the season. Urrutia continued his remarkable second half of the campaign, securing his fourth straight top-two finish, a run that was highlighted by victories at Mid-Ohio and Gateway. 

“I’m incredibly proud of our drivers and the entire team for their accomplishments, and winning the Team Championship is a huge achievement for Belardi Auto Racing,” offered team owner Brian Belardi. “This championship is incredibly competitive and it’s extremely satisfying to add the team title to our resume, alongside our 2014 Driver Championship and wins in the prestigious races like the Freedom 100, Pocono, Long Beach. St. Pete and Toronto, among others. Aaron was simply incredible in the wet on Sunday, and Santi is just an extreme talent. I wish Shelby could have raced to the finish because we would have wrapped the season with all three of our guys in the top-10. He had a great weekend up until the halfshaft failure. Overall, it’s been a great season and I’m already very excited for 2018.” 

The team unloaded at Watkins Glen with a fast set-up for the 3.37-mile, 11-turn track, as Blackstock topped the charts in Practice 1 with a time of 1:32.7903 on Friday afternoon.  The entire team was in the top-six to begin the weekend with Telitz in fourth and Urrutia in sixth. Telitz took his turn atop the time sheets in Practice 2 on the cool Saturday morning with a lap of 1:33.2365, as the final eight minutes of the 30-minute session saw a flurry of drivers bolting on fresh sticker Coopers to test their qualifying set-ups.  Blackstock remained in the top-five, sitting in fourth, while Urrutia dropped from the top of the charts to 12th over the final quarter of the session, electing not to go back out on new rubber. 

Qualifying was held mid-day on Saturday, and the track conditions continued to change with warmer temperatures and the continual increase in grip thanks to the addition of the Verizon IndyCar Series rubber. The entire team qualified in the top-six, with Santi leading the way in second ahead of Aaron in third. Shelby was on his game as well, timing in sixth to secure a starting spot on the outside of Row 3. 

Heading into the Watkins Glen event, everyone knew that rain was being heavily predicted for Sunday, and it arrived in the morning for the two remaining MRTI races on the schedule. USF2000 finished up on Saturday, so Pro Mazda was run in the wet, and the Indy Lights drivers were then faced with rain throughout their event as well.  At the start, Telitz and Urrutia split polesitter Colton Herta, but while Telitz held the lead through the Esses for the first time, Herta was able to get back past on the exit of the Bus Stop.  The battle for the lead was exciting, but Telitz was eventually able to get past in the heel of the Boot on lap 2.  From there, he pulled away as Urrutia battled with Herta to take over second. 

Urrutia followed suit and was able to get past Herta for second on lap 4, getting a better run out of Turn 8 to assume the inside of the corner in Turn 9. However, he overcooked the braking zone in the Bus Stop just a lap later and needed to take the escape road, rejoining on the other side of the ‘Inner Loop’ behind Herta once again. Urrutia finally took over the position after a thrilling dice, and Belardi would then run 1-2 through to a lap 18 red flag for standing water as the rain intensified. Blackstock had been running eighth in the early going, but a broken halfshaft ended his season on lap 15 just before the red flag and he was officially classified in 12th

After a brief delay, the race went back to green with seven laps to go and Urrutia attacked Telitz on the opening lap, but he could not get past the leader. Aaron completed a stellar performance to win his second race of the year by 2.1807 seconds over Urrutia.  

It was a tremendous race for the Belardi Auto Racing, as the 1-2 finish on Sunday advanced them to the top of the standings in the prestigious Team Championship battle, earning them their first such title.  The team edged Andretti Autosport by just four points, outgunning them by 15 points during the Watkins Glen weekend. 

In the final standings, Urrutia finished second, just 20 points behind Kyle Kaiser. Telitz finished sixth overall in his rookie season while Blackstock capped the top-10. 

After celebrating the accomplishments of their drivers and crew on Monday night at the MRTI Celebration held at the Harbor Hotel in Watkins Glen on Monday evening, the focus on the 2018 season starts now.  The annual Chris Griffis Memorial Test on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course is just over a month away, and the team is already focused on winning both the Driver and Team Championships next season. 

BELARDI AUTO RACING – DRIVER RESULTS AND QUOTES

INDY LIGHTS – ROUND 16 – SEPTEMBER 1-2, 2017

WATKINS GLEN INTERNATIONAL – WATKINS GLEN, NY 

SANTIAGO URRUTIA - #5

Qualifying: 2nd – 1:32.7947

Race: Start – 2nd / Finish – 2nd  

Driver Quote: “The race in Watkins Glen was very challenging, but I enjoyed racing in the rain. We finished the season off strongly, which makes me happy, and I’m also pleased that we could get the Team Championship for Brian and the crew. I am disappointed that we could not win the championship, but I want to thank everyone at Belardi Auto Racing for their hard work. We really came together as a team this season. I am now looking forward to continuing my career in IndyCar.” 

AARON TELITZ - #9

Qualifying: 3rd – 1:32.8520

Race: Start – 3rd / Finish – 1st

Driver Quote: "Watkins Glen was a near-perfect way to close the season for myself and the Belardi Auto Racing team! All three of our cars were dialed-in all weekend, no matter the conditions. The race was definitely wild, but my car was incredible and I was able to take the lead and hold it even after the red flag. A Belardi 1-2 finish meant that we captured the Team Championship, as well, the first of many I'm sure for Belardi Auto Racing. I’m already planning my attack for 2018.” 

SHELBY BLACKSTOCK - #51

Qualifying: 6th – 1:32.9596

Race: Start – 6th / Finish – 12th

Driver Quote: “Our Watkins Glen race weekend started out pretty well, topping the charts in the opening practice, followed by a pretty good second session. We didn’t get the qualifying that we wanted, but it was still a good starting spot for the final race of the season. The race was definitely wet and wild, but unfortunately, it came to an end with a mechanical failure. Not the way I wanted to end my season, but I want to thank the Belardi Auto Racing team for all their hard work over the entire season. Even though we had a pretty rough season, it's good to know that the team came away with the Team Championship! Thank you to the team and all my supporters who have helped me through this season.”  

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.

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