Blackstock: Plenty of positives among not-so-great aspects of Month of May

Mazda Road to Indy, Pro Mazda, Pro Mazda bloggers, Shelby Blackstock — By on June 19, 2014 10:20 am
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Shelby Blackstock Pro Mazda Andretti AutosportFor my team, Andretti Autosport, and myself as a driver in Pro Mazda, we had plenty of positives and a few not-so-great things about our month of May in Indianapolis.

It was great to see the team score a win at the Indianapolis 500 with Ryan Hunter-Reay. My teammate Garett Grist got his first regular-season Pro Mazda win at the Night Before the 500 as well, so congrats to him on that.

Unfortunately, my own weekend at Lucas Oil Raceway didn’t go quite so smoothly. We started off kind of rough with the No. 28 Starstruck car running mid-pack, and we were working hard to get a grasp on it. Then, towards the final practice, we found something that made it really, really fast when we were running on our own. Because of that I feel like I left a little bit on the table for qualifying and probably could have gotten the pole. But I qualified P3 and Garett won pole, which is a pretty big achievement for us as a team.

The race started out well, but what did me in happened when I was running down the leaders. I overcooked Turn 1, got in the marbles and got passed while I was trying to clean my tires. We found out right away that the car was not good at all in dirty air after that. That’s definitely something we need to focus on for the next oval event — the car was great on its own, but as soon as we got behind somebody it struggled a lot. Once I fell back, it was hard to pass. We finished in P7, which really wasn’t what we wanted, but we definitely learned a lot from the whole experience.

It was a fun month overall being in Indianapolis, and it was good to be around everybody. The races were up and down, but I’m glad I got to spend more time there and see everything, especially learning more about the process of running the Indianapolis 500.

Pro Mazda has a few weeks off between LOR and our next two races at Houston, but for me, that just means that my other racing projects pick up. I ran in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge race at Kansas Speedway on June 7. The car was great for us there, but unfortunately my teammate made contact with another car and I had to serve a stop and go plus 60-second penalty right after I got in. We ended up ninth, which was a shame because the car was definitely good enough to win that day.

This coming weekend I head back to Europe to take part in the 24 Hours of Nurburgring, which I qualified for back in April. I’m extremely excited about that race. There are more than 200 cars on the entry list for it, and I’ve heard a rumor that it might be more than 300 that actually show up. It’ll be complete chaos, and it should make for a good race.

After that, I’ll fly back to the States and head to Houston for Pro Mazda’s doubleheader down there. I’m sort of 50/50 on whether I’m looking forward to that one as we had a lot of troubles with that track last year. Plus, we’re racing in a parking lot in Texas in the middle of June at 1:00 in the afternoon on both days… it’s going to be really hot and really bumpy, and my main worry is whether the cars are going to stay together. I’ve been training hard for the doubleheader in Houston to make sure I’m in peak physical condition so that my own body can keep up with the strain, so I’m going in with an open mind. With Garett’s win, the team has some strong momentum working in our favor, and I have a good outlook on the car we’ll show up with.

Here’s hoping it’s my turn to bring home a win or two and we can keep the upswing going for Andretti Autosport.

- Shelby

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

 

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