Archive for the ‘Pro Mazda’ Category

Don’t Miss Out: Appearances for the Grand Prix of Houston

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014
6.24.14 – Don't miss out on these opportunities to meet your favorite Andretti Autosport driver! We'll see you in Houston! (All times below are CENTRAL.)
 
 
 
 
 
Thursday, June 26
 
Marco Andretti
Kroger
5150 Buffalo Speedway
Houston, TX 77005
1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
 
Ryan Hunter-Reay
The Yellow Party
AutoNation Mercedes-Benz
3900 Southeast Fwy
Houston, TX 77027
7:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
 
 
Friday, June 27
 
Carlos Munoz
Honda Latino appearance
INDYCAR Fan Village
3:45 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
 
Carlos Munoz, James Hinchcliffe,
Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti
Verizon IndyCar Series Autograph Session
INDYCAR Fan Village
4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
 
 
Saturday, June 28
 
Garett Grist & Shelby Blackstock
Pro Mazda Autograph Session
INDYCAR Fan Village
11:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
 
 
 

Canadian Garett Grist dominates at LOR for first win

Saturday, May 24th, 2014

5.25.2014 (via Pro Mazda Championship) – For the second time in two weeks in the Indianapolis area, a young Canadian scored his first victory in the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires. This time it was Garett Grist, driving for Andretti Autosport, who led from flag to flag in Saturday evening’s 90-lap Allied Building Products Oval Challenge at the 0.686-mile Lucas Oil Raceway oval as part of the 69th Annual Visit Hendricks County Night Before the 500.

Fellow countryman Scott Hargrove, who turned the trick for Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing two weeks ago on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, finished second, ousting front row starter and championship leader Spencer Pigot (Juncos Racing) with six laps remaining in the fast-paced 90-lap race.

Both Grist, 19, from Grimsby, Ont., and Andretti Autosport teammate Shelby Blackstock had struggled during testing and official practice, but suddenly found the required turn of speed in qualifying as Grist took the pole with a two-lap average of 110.615 mph. Blackstock wasn’t too far behind in third, sandwiching practice pace-setter Pigot.

Grist took full advantage of his hard-won pole position by holding off Pigot and Blackstock at the start, with Nicolas Costa, making his first start for Pelfrey Racing, jumping into fourth ahead of Hargrove and Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing teammate Neil Alberico.

The race quickly settled into a pattern, with Grist and Pigot setting a torrid pace at the head of the pack and Blackstock gradually slipping behind in third place. On Lap 45, Grist’s #27 DaVinci Foods/Lander Property Management car suddenly stepped out from underneath him in Turn Three. The youngster managed to regain control, but suddenly Pigot was alongside as the leaders sped past the grandstands and into Turn One. Grist, however, fought off the attack and soon began to edge clear to cement his victory in style.

Now it was Pigot’s turn to struggle. All of a sudden, the steering began to tighten up and the already stern physical challenge became even tougher. By Lap 75, Pigot had slipped back into the clutches of Costa and Hargrove, both of whom had found a way past Blackstock, who also was struggling with a handling imbalance.

Hargrove, who said his car mysteriously found some extra speed in the closing stages, swept past both Costa and Pigot on Laps 83 and 84 to take over second place and earn himself the RePlay XD Move of the Race Award. Hargrove also took home the Quarter Master Hard Charger Award after rising from sixth on the grid to second.

Pigot was virtually exhausted at the finish line after narrowly holding off the attentions of Costa. Afterward it was discovered that the right-front tire on Pigot’s car was almost completely flat after having picked up a piece of debris.

Veteran Anders Krohn, making his first start of the season, finished a strong fifth in the second Team Pelfrey car, followed by Alberico, the disappointed Blackstock, and Kyle Kaiser, who edged out Juncos Racing teammate Jose Gutierrez after a race-long battle.

Additional contingency awards included the PFC Award and customized Race Energy charger – the official battery of the ladder series – to the winning team, Andretti Autosport; and the Staubli Award to race winner Grist.

Pigot and Hargrove are now separated by only three points, 180-177, as the Pro Mazda Championship moves on to the streets of Houston, Texas, for Rounds Eight and Nine in conjunction with the Verizon IndyCar Series on June 28/29.

Garett Grist, #27 DaVinci Foods/Lander Property Management (Andretti Autosport): “Today’s race went really well. I was able to settle down into a rhythm after Spencer had put some pressure on me. Once I settled down into my rhythm we slowly pulled away and I think we managed traffic a lot better than the rest. I could definitely use all the lanes and not lose any time going down low which is a lot like I had last year in the USF2000 race. I am really happy the car was that good and we were able to do that.”

 

 

Don’t Miss Out: Appearances for week of May 5, 2014

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

5.7.14 - Don't miss out on your opportunity to visit with our INDYCAR drivers from Pro Mazda to Indy Lights and the Verizon IndyCar Series! Check out the list of appearances for our weekend at the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis!

 
 
 
 
 
 
Thursday, May 8
 
James Hinchcliffe
Pit Pass LIVE
Gasoline Alley at IMS or AndrettiTV.com
9:30 a.m.
 
 
Marco Andretti
Walgreens signing
1424 S. Rangeline Rd, Carmel, IN 46032
5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
 
 
 
Friday, May 9
 
James Hinchcliffe
Pit Pass LIVE
Gasoline Alley at IMS or AndrettiTV.com
9:30 a.m.
 
 
Zach Veach & Matthew Brabham
Indy Lights autographs
INDYCAR Fan Village
3:15 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.
 
 
Marco Andretti, Franck Montagny, James Hinchcliffe,
Ryan Hunter-Reay, Carlos Munoz
REV Indy
North & East Chalets – IMS
6:45 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
 
 
 
Saturday, May 10
 
Shelby Blackstock & Garett Grist
Pro Mazda autographs
INDYCAR Fan Village
2:45 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.
 
 
 
 

BLACKSTOCK: Barber delivered first 2014 podium, but we’re looking for more

Monday, May 5th, 2014

5.4.14 (via MoreFrontWing.com) – The Pro Mazda Championship ran Rounds 3 and 4 at Barber Motorsports Park last weekend, and it was a pretty up-and-down event for me and the No. 28 Starstruck Andretti Autosport team.

Things started out strong. We had the fastest time in the Thursday morning test session and the second-fastest in Friday morning practice, and we felt like the car was pretty on point. But our competitors started finding changes that were working for them, and from then on we were just playing catch-up.

In the first race of the weekend, we started sixth and were able to move up one spot to end up fifth. We were fine with that, but it wasn’t the first or second-place finish we were looking for.

In Race Two we started fourth and finished third to land our first podium finish of the regular season, so that was a bit more satisfying. We were frustrated that despite making some good progress on the car and some good changes, it just wasn’t enough in the end to give us the pace of the two front-runners.

If you look at the time sheets from the season so far, you’ll see there are only two teams that are consistently ahead of us: Juncos Racing – and especially the points leader Spencer Pigot – and Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing.

Some people are looking at Spencer right now and wondering if he can be beaten. The thing about that team is that it’s 100% car over there right now. Don’t get me wrong – Spencer is a good driver. But we were wondering why they were so pushy about having the new front tire brought in for this season, and now it kind of makes more sense. It’s livened their cars up quite a considerable amount and definitely helped them a lot, whereas it kind of hurt our car and left us a bit behind. We will definitely have something for them once we get a handle on what our car needs, and then we should be right there with them battling for wins.

As for Cape — congratulations to them on getting up to speed this fast in their first season of Pro Mazda. Those guys are very, very good in USF2000 and they had a good amount of testing in the off-season, so we knew they’d always be a threat, and they’ve definitely proved to be that. It’s been pretty amazing to see.

We’re getting closer and closer to those guys on car setup and that’s all I ask for. We have some good strong points on the car – it’s just that the weak points really, really hurt us. We learned a lot at Barber and are making some updates to focus on our weak points and make the whole car overall stronger for our next event.

My other racing pursuits are going well. I mentioned in my last update that I was flying to Germany to attempt to qualify for the 24 Hours of Nurburgring. Well, we did it by finishing second in class in the qualifying race, so we’re very happy. I can’t wait to get back there in June. It’s going to be 200-plus cars and 24 hours on the most dangerous and hardest track in the world. Sounds like my idea of fun.

And this weekend I’m at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca to race with my teammate Ashley Freiberg in the Fall-Line Motorsports BMW M3 in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge series. We took the win at Daytona but dropped out with a mechanical issue at Sebring, so it feels like it’s been an awfully long wait for our chance to get redemption from that. Laguna Seca is one of my home tracks, so I have a lot of laps here. I really like it. There have been some balance of performance updates throughout the series for this weekend, so it’ll be interesting to see where everybody sizes up.

Of course, being on the west coast means I missed out on observing the Verizon IndyCar Series open test at the new IMS road course this past Wednesday. That doesn’t concern me too much, though. The Andretti Autosport IndyCar teams were there and our Pro Mazda engineers were able to check things out, so I’ll land in Indianapolis on Monday night and go out to dinner with them to go over everything. I’ll be caught up pretty fast.

I can’t wait to get on track at IMS in a Pro Mazda car. It’s great that IndyCar is running a road course weekend there and that the entire Mazda Road to Indy will get to be part of it. It’s the Indy 500 that obviously makes that place amazing, but it’s cool to do the road course and then a couple of weeks later go into the oval race. I think overall for the entire series, it’s going to be awesome.

Regardless, in the end it’s all about actually getting on track at IMS to see whose setup is going to work the best for that place. Like you, I’m looking forward to seeing how it goes. I hope the work we’ve done gets us onto the top step of the podium.

- Shelby

 

 

GRIST: Frustration setting in as we search for better results

Thursday, May 1st, 2014

5.1.14 (via MoreFrontWing.com) – My Andretti Autosport teammates and I got back earlier this week from Rounds 3 and 4 of the Pro Mazda season at Barber Motorsports Park. We were looking forward to getting down there after our podium at Winterfest this past off-season, especially since we had a rough weekend at St. Pete and were hoping Barber would give us the bounce-back we needed to get our season on track.

We started out strong and even put the DaVinci Foods/Lander Property Management car in P2 in one of the practice sessions. But when we got to qualifying, we made some changes that set the car off-balance and really hurt us. We ended up qualifying eighth, which was not at all where we felt like we should have been.

Then, we threw another big round of changes at the car for Race 1 to try to bring it back, but it ended up even worse. It was a struggle just to hold on to our starting position for all 20 laps, but I managed to pull it off.

For Race 2 on Sunday morning, we decided to take our changes in the opposite direction. This ended up being the right move because the car was a lot better. I finished in seventh but had the third-fastest lap of the race, and that was even after burning my tires off and spending some time in traffic. I feel like if we weren’t in traffic I could have had one of the quickest cars on track and been able to get past more guys.

If I sound a bit frustrated it’s because I am, to be honest. We’re really not where I thought we would be at this point in the year, especially not after the great results we had at Winterfest. I had hoped we’d be in the top three and battling for wins in every race, and that just hasn’t been happening. I know I’m a rookie and I know I should try to be more patient, but I also know that right now we’re really not showing people just how much we can do.

In my last blog I mentioned that I was going to hang out at Long Beach with my teammate, Shelby Blackstock, and it actually ended up not happening. That was my birthday weekend, and I had an opportunity to stay home and spend some time with some family members who I don’t get to see very often, so I opted to do that and lay low instead. From what I hear from Shelby, though, Long Beach was a good time… I’ll have to try to get down there next year.

Now, everybody’s looking ahead to the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. I had a chance to check out the Verizon IndyCar Series open test yesterday, and the track looks great. In the morning I watched from pit lane and chatted with the engineers about what we were seeing, and then in the afternoon I walked around and checked out some of the different viewing spots. It looks like they did a really good job on it, and it should be a fun track to race.

I sure hope IMS is better to us than St. Pete and Barber have been. I’ll be back to let you know how it goes.

- Garett

 

 

Don’t Miss Out: Appearances for week of April 21, 2014

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

4.22.14 - Don't miss out on your opportunity to visit with our INDYCAR drivers from Pro Mazda to Indy Lights and the Verizon IndyCar Series! Check out the list of appearances for our weekend at the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama!
 
 
 
 
 
 
Friday, April 25
 
Marco Andretti & Ryan Hunter-Reay
ShopAndretti.com Merch Signing
INDYCAR Fan Village
4:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
 
 
Saturday, April 26
 
Marco Andretti, James Hinchcliffe, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Carlos Muñoz 
Verizon IndyCar Autograph Session
INDYCAR Fan Village
12:15 p.m. – 1:15 p.m.
 
 
Sunday, April 27
 
Zach Veach & Matthew Brabham
Indy Lights Autograph Session
INDYCAR Fan Village
10:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
 
Shelby Blackstock & Garett Grist
Pro Mazda Autograph Session
INDYCAR Fan Village
10:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
 
 
 

Don’t Miss Out: Appearances for week of April 7, 2014

Monday, April 7th, 2014

4.7.14 - Don't miss out on your opportunity to visit with our INDYCAR drivers from Pro Mazda to Indy Lights and the Verizon IndyCar Series! Check out the list of appearances for our weekend at the Grand Prix of Long Beach!

 

 

Thursday, April 10

James Hinchcliffe

Pit Stop Demo

Pine Ave.

6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

 

Friday, April 11

Marco Andretti, James Hinchcliffe, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Carlos Muñoz

Verizon IndyCar Autograph Session

INDYCAR Paddock

4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

 

Marco Andretti, James Hinchcliffe, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Carlos Muñoz

The Yellow Party

w/ a performance by LIVE

The Federal Bar

102 Pine Ave, Long Beach, CA 90802

6:45 p.m. – 8:45 p.m.

 

Saturday, April 12

Carlos Muñoz meet & greet

Honda Latino

INDYCAR Fan Village

11:45 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

 

Zach Veach & Matthew Brabham signing

Indy Lights Autograph Session

INDYCAR Fan Village

2:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

 

 

 

Zach Veach claims first series win in St. Pete

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

4.2.14 (via RACER) – Zach Veach took the first Indy Lights win of his career with a dominant performance in St. Petersburg. The Andretti Autosport driver, who was one of only three non-rookies in the field, passed polesitter and fellow veteran Gabby Chaves at the first corner, and never looked back. He crossed the line five seconds clear of Chaves, who in turn had a 16s buffer over third-placed Jack Harvey.
 

"I'm so happy. Last year didn't go exactly how we wanted it to, but my engineer (Doug Zister) never stopped helping me," related Veach. "This winter I spent a lot of time trying to get more physically strong because I felt that was my weakness, and spent a lot of time doing mental things and came into the season with a whole new attitude. I think it paid off for us.
 

"My engineer definitely was on me a lot about saving tires. In my mind I was thinking, 'Just don't mess up, just hit my marks, have clean laps' – and we were able to do that. I took the lead early and were able to keep it from there. I want to thank everyone on the RePLAY XD team for all their hard work and support in getting me to Victory Lane. Big thanks to Cooper TiresMazda and the Mazda Road to Indy for this amazing start to 2014."
 

It was the battle for third that provided most of the race's interest. Early on the position was occupied by Matthew Brabham, who looked a threat for second during the opening laps before he clipped the wall at Turn 3 and was forced to pit with a punctured left-rear tire. That promoted AutoGP champion Vittorio Ghirelli onto the provisional podium, but he was never able to open a gap over the group of cars pursuing him and was eventually beaten with a great move around the outside of the last corner by Harvey.

 

Read more…

 

 

 

Young talent Garett Grist hoping to make big waves at Andretti Autosport in 2014

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014

4.2.14 (via RaceChaserOnline) – Being the youngest member of the team doesn’t mean one can’t make a big splash. That philosophy is exactly what young rising star Garett Grist is hoping to prove this season in the Pro Mazda Series presented by Cooper Tires.

Driving for Andretti Autosport (AA), the soon-to-be 19-year-old makes his debut in Pro Mazda this weekend in St. Petersburg, Florida, during the season opening St. Petersburg Pro Mazda doubleheader. The young Canadian, who last season competed in USF2000 for the veteran open wheel squad, says that while he wasn’t comfortable at first with moving up the ladder a year early, he knew that it was the smarter decision to remain with the Andretti team.

“To be honest, this wasn’t where I expected I was going to be this season (in Pro Mazda), but I’ll take it,” said Grist, who is currently finishing his final term of high school at Grimsby District Secondary School in Ontario. “When the Andrettis announced they were going to be closing their F2000 program going into this year, I knew I had two options: either stay in USF2000 and find a new team to work with, or move up with the team I’m at now.”

“I’m excited and glad to be with Michael Andretti and everyone at Andretti Autosport again this season. Our first year definitely had a lot of high points, but I didn’t accomplish everything personally that I wanted to; I’m hoping that with this group of guys helping me out again that we can make 2014 an even stronger year for this whole team.”

Grist began his junior karting career in his native Canada in 2009, winning the ASN Canada FIA Junior Rotax National Championship in his rookie season and qualifying to compete at the karting World Finals as a member of Team Canada in both 2009 and 2010. He also won the Western Canadian Challenge Junior Rotax championship in 2010 before moving up to test his hand at single-seater Formula racing in 2011.

The young gun raced in Formula Ford and F1600 in 2011 and 2012, racking up a combined seventeen top ten finishes between the two season runs, including three victories in Ontario Formula Ford in 2011 and a fourth place finish in the F1600 Formula F Series championship with Bryan Herta Autosport in 2012. Grist also received the prestigious Team Canada Racing scholarship before hooking up with the Andretti Autosport team for the 2013 season, when the young teenager’s career took off.

Last year, in a breakout season, Grist took the Cooper Tires USF2000 championship by storm, notching a win, a pole, four podium and ten top 10 finishes in his rookie campaign in both the series and with his Andretti team. The Ontario native parlayed that record into a third-place finish in the championship standings and Rookie of the Year honors, but says he feels like last season should have been even bigger for he and the team despite a thrilling runner-up result at Lucas Oil Raceway and the victory in the final round at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

“We had a good year last year, but we definitely had a few races get away from us,” Grist lamented as he recalled his 2013 campaign. “I feel like we easily could have and probably should have won all three races (at Mid-Ohio) that weekend, we just had a few things go wrong here and there.”

“The race at LOR though, was amazing for us. We dropped back a pretty long ways in the middle of the race, and then it started getting down to crunch time around the last 20 laps or so, and the car just came to life; we started picking our way through and got all the way to second. Ran out of time to get the leader, but it was a great day and really bolstered my confidence a lot.”

Grist also competed in this year’s Cooper Tire’s Winterfest, where he notched a win and four top four finishes in four starts to come home third in the winter series championship standings behind Spencer Pigot and Scott Hargrove.

Off-track, Grist is also very active in giving back to the community in his home province. Grist is an avid supporter of the SickKids Hospital in Toronto, Ontario, and pays frequent visits to the hospital to spend time with many of the young patients. Grist and the AA team also have the patients submit helmet designs that are then used on his helmets and auctioned off, with any proceeds going back to the hospital.

 

Read more…

 

 

 

 

Shelby Blackstock paving own way to stardom in 2014

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

4.1.14 (via RaceChaserOnline) — Ask Shelby Blackstock about his parents. He’ll tell you all about them. In fact, he’s as proud of them as they are of him.

Blackstock, the son of country music superstar Reba McEntire and her husband and manager Narvel Blackstock, has never shied away from talking about his family, but has worked hard over the years to find his own individual niche and follow his own path, one that led away from the entertainment business, where he spent his time as a young child, and into a different form of entertainment — auto racing.

“I worked on the road (with mom and dad) when I was eight years old, just doing odds and ends but still doing things for them, but they really got me working by the time I was 10,” Shelby says, recalling his days before racing. “It was never something that was forced on me. I wanted to have a chance to go work on the road anyways. I was a roadie for a while, I just never ended up living it,” Blackstock laughs.

“I’d go out on tour for two, three weeks at a time and it was awesome as a kid, but as I got older, I realized it wasn’t for me.”

After graduating high school, Shelby was enrolled at the University of Arizona, but quickly began having second thoughts about earning his degree. During Thanksgiving of his freshman year, Shelby called his mother and struck a deal with her that if he finished the school year, she would agree to send him out to the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Racing.

“I got to U of A, and I started asking around about potential majors,” Blackstock explained. “I said, ‘do you have anything with cars or car design?’ and they said, ‘well no, you have to be an art major and that’s two more years at a different college’, so that was out. Aerodynamics was three more years and being a space major, so I’m like, ‘yeah, no’ but while I was there I met Jim Click (with the Jim Click Racing Team) in Tucson and that kicked off the motorsports dream.

When Blackstock arrived at the Bondurant School and got behind the wheel, there was no doubt about his natural talent for driving race cars. He outpaced all of the “refresher course” drivers on the ground and showed so much skill that the Bondurant School suggested he take a turn at the Skip Barber School of Racing.

On advice, Blackstock did indeed head to Skip Barber to perfect his craft after returning to the Bondurant School one more time following the conclusion of his school year, and from there, the road was built.

But even despite Blackstock’s long journey to get to professional motorsports, from a very early age it seemed he was destined to belong there.

“My parents bought us (Shelby and his niece) go-karts one Christmas and told us we could ride them at the house. Now, these aren’t the race karts that everybody’s used to seeing the kids learn in today; these were from Wal-Mart with lawn mower engines, full-on ‘redneck-mobiles’ and it was probably crazy what we were doing with them,” the Tennessee native laughed.

“So, my parents buy us these karts, and their rule was that we couldn’t drive in the grass, not in any circumstances. We could only drive on the driveway and in the field.  The problem was at the end of the driveway we had to 180 it to keep out of the grass, and a lot of times we’d hook the wheels and roll the karts. Finally, we figured out how to drop the right rear wheel down on the dirt just enough to lose traction, and then we’d yank the wheel left and slam on the brakes. Problem solved!”

Blackstock began his competitive racing career on August 28, 2010, racing in the Mustang Challenge Miller Cup series, but it wasn’t until January of 2011 that Blackstock made his sports car debut in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge at Daytona running as high as first before turning the car over to his co-driver Roly Falgueras. The duo ultimately finished 18th that day but the track time would set the stage for Blackstock’s future success.

Blackstock’s season got off on the right foot from race one, as he took the victory along with co-driver Ashley Freiberg at the BMW Performance 200, the season-opening event for the IMSA Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge at Daytona International Speedway.

Looking at that moment now, Blackstock calls it “career-changing”.

“To have started out our season the way we did with Fall Line Motorsports in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge was amazing. Every single session we went out we were insanely fast and in the end it just all came together. Even despite some problems in qualifying we started fifteenth and were able to pull out a win.”

“To go to victory lane at Daytona; every driver in the world dreams of having a chance to win there. Now we can say we’ve done it.”

Blackstock has also raced in the Skip Barber National Series and the Mazda MX-5 Cup Championship. Currently, he races in the Pro Mazda Championship with Andretti Autosport and the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge driving the Grnad Sport (GS) #51 Boss 302R Mustang for Roush Performance.

 

Read more…