Blackstock: Adverse conditions made for a fun weekend in Houston

Mazda Road to Indy, Pro Mazda, Shelby Blackstock — By on July 31, 2014 9:51 am

Shelby Blackstock Pro Mazda Andretti AutosportIt’s time to get ready for the Pro Mazda races at Mid-Ohio this weekend, so let’s do that by getting caught up on everything that’s happened since the Grand Prix of Houston.

In the Andretti Autosport No. 28 Starstruck Pro Mazda car, we had a horrible qualifying weekend in Houston that was made a lot better by two really fun races. It’s too bad our results weren’t as good as we would have liked, but at least we had a good time getting to where we did.

We started off the Houston weekend a bit behind. We couldn’t find a good setup to go with, and it showed in qualifying. We qualified 10th for the first race, which pretty much put us in 10th again for the second since the first race had a lot of rain and we weren’t able to better our time.

Race One was a standing start, and we drove from 10th to fifth before a huge downpour came and everybody was hustling to the pits to change to wet tires. I pitted a lap too late because we had communication problems with our radios, so I unfortunately lost all the progress I had made and fell back down to 10th. We only had three or four laps to go once we took the green again, and I again took the car from 10th to fifth. If we could have had a couple more laps, I’d bet we could have gotten on the podium. The car was really good in the wet and racing with it was a whole lot of fun.

On the start of Race Two, I drove from 10th to fourth in the first three corners and to third by the end of the first lap. We were able to keep that spot all the way to the end, but it didn’t come without a fight. We had kind of thrown the kitchen sink at the car for this one, and it was fast but I had to still learn it over the course of the second race. On top of all that, it was very hot there, which left a lot of us fatigued and dealing with engine overheating issues. Plus, I had Ryan Booth on my gearbox for most of the race, and it was actually fun because I knew I could keep him behind me if I didn’t make any mistakes, so it became a kind of strategy to focus on keeping myself clean while taking air off of his radiator to leave him managing heat issues.

In the end, I was able to hold him off and end the race with a podium finish. Even though we’re all in extremely good shape, as soon as we got out of the car all three of us on the podium just threw water on ourselves — it was really that hot out there!

Overall, the changing conditions made for a really fun weekend and left us in a good spot in the points. We moved up to fourth in the championship, only three points out of third, and with only five races left in our season we’re getting to the stage where that counts.

A lot of guys were able to take a good, long break between Houston and now, but my racing schedule has kept me constantly busy not only through July but pretty much the whole season. It’s been a lot of fun. But as soon as I get home, I’m so wiped that all I want to do with my vacation time is just sit around the house or maybe do some go-karting. Everybody tries to get me to do stuff like go out to the beach, but I’m just like, “nope, I’m good.” Being at the house just hanging around is the best type of vacation for me these days.

I’m just coming off a good weekend for Fall-Line Motorsports after the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race up at Indianapolis. We were unfortunately not able to get on the top step since the Camaros over there are a little overpowering right now, so we had to settle for second and third. The 48 car that I co-drive got third, which we were pretty happy with — I was racing with my teammate, Trent Hindman. He’s the points leader for the series, so I didn’t want to battle him too hard. We played good teammate and let him go to see if he could catch the Camaro and just defended anything that was going to come close to us since I’m not really in it for points. We wound up with a double podium for the team and it gave Trent a massive points lead, so it was a pretty good weekend. Hopefully having that momentum to carry us into Mid-Ohio will give us a couple of good results.

Speaking of Mid-Ohio, it’s one of my favorite tracks and I’m hopeful we’ll be able to get a good result there. My team’s been working really hard and we had a really good test recently – we didn’t get to do our final sticker run, which would have put us close to the top – so hopefully we can take what we learned there and finally get to the top step for the first time this year!

– Shelby

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



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