7.29.13 (via INDYCAR Nation) – We’ve chatted with Garett Grist before this season, but it was time to check in on the Andretti Autosport USF2000 driver to see how his season is progressing. Grist is one of several Canadians working on moving up the Mazda Road to Indy, and currently sits P5 in the USF2000 after Toronto. Grist updated INDYCAR Nation on his season thus far, as well as his thoughts on some other key topics in today’s open wheel racing:
Garett, great to hear from you again. You know, we touched base earlier this year, but Toronto looked to be an important weekend for you guys. How would you characterize your weekend there overall?
GG: For me personally, Toronto was an up-and-down weekend. It was great to have a lot of my friends and family there, as well as sponsors like DaVinci Foods, Sofina Foods, and Lander Property Management. It was great to have them all there, but the on-track portion was tough. We were third-fastest in second practice, but in qualifying, the red flag came out, and we had to start P8. That sort of set us back for the whole weekend. We were back where more of the incidents happen, and we lost our front wing on Saturday for Race 1. That hurt us, too—we had to start P11 on Sunday, but we moved up to finish P6. I look at it that every week is an improvement and a step with the team towards making ourselves better.
The track itself [Toronto] is a blast. I’m a big fan of street races, and they did a great job at Toronto. Certainly I think the paving they’ve done has made it even better from other racing there I’ve watched.
So now that you have a few USF2000 races under your belt with Andretti Autosport, how do you compare them to the team you drove for last year? What’s the culture comparison between Andretti Autosport and your previous team, Bryan Herta Autosport?
GG: Well, last year I had a great time with the Herta guys, and I’m having a great time this year with the Andretti guys. I don’t think there’s many differences, on one level. They both have great employees and great drive. I think it comes down to a matter of scale. The Herta guys have the one IndyCar and their F1600 team, but Andretti has the whole Mazda Road to Indy ladder covered. The shops are definitely different in size, as are the number of employees available. This year I’m fortunate enough to have some Public Relations help, and things like that, which I didn’t really have last year. So I really like both teams, but Andretti is obviously a bit larger and deeper overall.
With that in mind, does having those resources available impact your learning curve as a young driver? Does it lend itself to mentorship from some of the more experienced drivers right now?
GG: For sure. Matthew Brabham and Shelby Blackstock are two guys I can always go to when I’m struggling. I’ll ask if I can watch their videos, or review videos with them, or if they’ll talk out some advice with me. Their engineers are much the same, too. Even the IndyCar guys help out—I sat down with Ryan Hunter-Reay before Toronto, and he helped me with my racing lines.