Blackstock: Awesome experience at the new IMS road course

Mazda Road to Indy, Pro Mazda, Pro Mazda bloggers, Shelby Blackstock — By on May 22, 2014 9:42 am

Shelby Blackstock Pro Mazda Andretti AutosportIt was an awesome experience racing on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in Pro Mazda during the Grand Prix of Indianapolis weekend. IMS has done an amazing job reconfiguring the track, and getting to drive down the front straight was something special. The new IMS road course is probably one of my favorite tracks out there right now.

We started our first race of the weekend in third position, which we were happy with. I was really surprised to learn that it’s not actually ideal to start from pole in these races because you’re just going to get slowed up on the very long straight on the start.

We got through turn 1 successfully, even though it was a pretty crazy start. After getting through a couple of restarts I was able to finish in 2nd place in Race 1 – one spot shy of what we were aiming for, of course, but we were really happy with a good finish and a good points day.

For Race 2, we started in 6th. At the start, a lot of people crashed in front of us and we had to go through the grass in turn 1, and I fell back to 12th.

After that, I was having a really good race. The car was phenomenal, and I jumped from 12th to 5th. But then, while passing Neil Alberico, he outbroke himself and kind of took us out. It’s unfortunate because we had such a good car in Race 2, and I think we could have gotten back up onto the podium and maybe with a late restart could even have challenged for the win.

I’m really proud of the entire Andretti Autosport team and especially the guys on the No. 28 Starstruck crew for all they did throughout the whole weekend to get the car as good as it was for us.

Now, I’m staying in Indianapolis through the Pro Mazda race at the Night Before the 500 at Lucas Oil Raceway, and then I’ll stay to watch the Indianapolis 500 before I leave on Monday. I like Indy a lot, and I’m having a lot of fun here. It’s really nice to be so close to the shop all the time.

There’s a Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge race at Lime Rock Park this Saturday, but I’m going to sit that one out to focus on getting a good result in the Night Before the 500. I enjoy racing at Lucas Oil Raceway, even though I do get a tad bored with racing ovals sometimes because it’s just one constant motion. It’s definitely totally different and it’s a different type of racing, so I like it.

We had a test at LOR last week, which went pretty well. My teammate Garett and I were on different testing strategies, so he could figure out what was good about the stuff he was testing and I could find what was good in the stuff I was testing. We definitely came out with a good base for both cars, and I think when we go back we should do well. It was hard to get a read on the track because it was really low-grip, so we couldn’t drive the car how we normally would and the times were really, really off for everyone.

I hope when we go back that the track is a little bit more rubbered up and has a little bit more grip so that we can hopefully go for a good qualifying run, get the pole, and go home with another win.

– Shelby

Shelby Blackstock is a Pro Mazda driver for Andretti Autosport. Follow him on Twitter at @shelbilly and on Facebook.

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