Grist: Uncharacteristic opening weekend in St. Petersburg

Garett Grist, Mazda Road to Indy, Pro Mazda, Pro Mazda bloggers — By on April 9, 2014 7:54 am

Then Sunday was even worse. We started seventh because the Race Two grid is set by fastest lap times in Race One. I got into a crash right away in Turn 1; I was on the inside a little bit and just kind of got turned down on. I don’t think it was my fault, and I don’t think it was the other guy’s fault; it was just one of those Turn 1 racing incidents. But again, I had a broken suspension and had to come in for repairs. By the time that was done, I was four or five laps down, so all I could do was put in some slow laps and get half the race distance done to make sure we scored some points.

It definitely wasn’t the opening weekend we were hoping for, but we tried to make the best of it. It’s too bad there weren’t too many happy things to talk about on-track, but there were definitely lots of positives to take away from the weekend.

After Race Two was done, I was able to catch the Indy Lights race. It was so cool to see my teammate Zach Veach get his first-ever win in that series. We were all really happy for him about that. And we all stuck around to watch the IndyCar race afterward, too, which is always good.

When we first arrived, my Andretti Autosport teammates Zach and Matt and my Pro Mazda teammate Shelby Blackstock all did an interview together with Road to Indy TV, which was a lot of fun. We were there for an hour or two with the host Tristan Vautier asking us questions, not really about racing but more about our personal lives to give fans another way to connect with us. We all liked having the chance to do that.

The Mazda Road to Indy Summit on Thursday was really helpful, too. They had a lot of speakers set up for us, and one of them was Mike Hull from Target Chip Ganassi Racing, which was great. Having the chance to learn from veterans of the sport is always valuable.

Maybe the biggest positive from the weekend is that I’ve learned how to drive the Pro Mazda car on a street track, so now when we head to Houston in June, I’ll already know what to do and we’ll be able to just focus on the car setup.

Shelby and I are getting along really well. He’s a great teammate and is a lot of help, and we work well together. We’re renting an apartment together for the Month of May in Indianapolis, so having him and I on our own together like that should be fun. We’re going to Long Beach together for the IndyCar weekend, too, just to hang out and have fun.

St. Pete was a weekend that wasn’t like us at all, I’d say. I don’t usually make mistakes and our car is almost always perfect, so it was really an off weekend for us. Hopefully now we’ve got our bad weekend out of the way for the year. I always do the best I can every time I go out there, and I know I’ve just got to keep working hard. The good news is I feel good going into Barber. We were one of the quickest there at Winterfest, so we already know we can be fast. I think Barber will be a good showing for us and we’ll be able to show everyone what we really have.

I hope you’ll follow along with us, and I’ll be back then for sure to let you know how it goes.


Garett Grist competes in the Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires with his team Andretti Autosport. Follow him on Twitter @gristgarett and on Facebook.

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