Nico Jamin's No. 27 Andretti Indy Lights car. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

MRTI: Entry lists released for St. Petersburg

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The entry lists for the three rungs on the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires are out today, ahead of the season-opening weekends at St. Petersburg.

More than 50 drivers from 14 countries are present across the board; more previews for these series will come throughout this week.

Quick notes from the three series and the entry lists are below:

Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires (15 entries)

  • The 15 drivers entered are the same as at the Spring Training test at Homestead-Miami Speedway, where Andretti Autosport led both the oval and road course portions of the test.
  • That 15-driver entry is broken down between seven returning drivers (Santiago Urrutia, Kyle Kaiser, Neil Alberico, Dalton Kellett, Shelby Blackstock, Zachary Claman De Melo, Juan Piedrahita) and eight rookies (Aaron Telitz, Nicolas Dapero, Matheus Leist, Garth Rickards, Nico Jamin, Colton Herta, Ryan Norman, Pato O’Ward).
  • Carlin has won three of the four races at St. Petersburg the last two years. Ed Jones swept in 2015 on both the team and driver’s U.S. debut; Felix Serralles won race one last year before Belardi Auto Racing’s Felix Rosenqvist won race two.
  • The Indy Lights races from St. Petersburg have a 2 a.m. ET air time on March 18 on NBCSN.

Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires (14 entries)

  • A better than expected field of 14 cars will feature all participants from the Spring Training test at Homestead-Miami Speedway and a bunch of extras that didn’t test there last week.
  • Young guns Phillippe Denes (World Speed Motorsports), Max Hanratty (ArmsUp Motorsports) and Matt Machiko (FatBoy! Racing) add a bit of extra interest to the field. Hanratty had previously been announced with Leading Edge Grand Prix, but that team’s entry has not materialized.
  • Look for Juncos Racing to make an interesting driver announcement on Wednesday as Ricardo Juncos’ team, which wasn’t originally planning to run Pro Mazda this season, now is set to return after all with two cars.
  • Team Pelfrey swept last year’s St. Petersburg races with Pato O’Ward and Aaron Telitz winning one race each. Neil Alberico (Cape Motorsports) swept 2015, Spencer Pigot (Juncos Racing) swept 2014, and Matthew Brabham (Andretti Autosport) swept 2013. It’s been since 2012, when Connor De Phillippi (Juncos) and Jack Hawksworth (Pelfrey) made it two different teams that won in a weekend at St. Petersburg.

Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda (22 entries)

  • Six returning drivers (Parker Thompson, Luke Gabin, Ayla Agren, Robert Megennis, Dakota Dickerson, Lucas Kohl), 15 rookies and one TBA make up the field of 22 cars for the USF2000 season opener, with all cars but one the new Tatuus USF-17 that makes its race debut. One National Class entry still fields the previous generation Van Diemen.
  • Rinus Van Kalmthout switches from Benik, where he was initially announced, to Pabst Racing in a third car. He has also tested for Newman Wachs Racing.
  • Pabst has swept the weekend here the last two years with Jordan Lloyd and Yufeng Luo winning once apiece last year and Jake Eidson winning both races in 2015. In 2014, Victor Franzoni (Afterburner Autosport) and RC Enerson (Team E) split the wins. It’s been since 2013, when Scott Hargrove swept for Cape Motorsports, that the six-time defending champion team has won at St. Pete.

Race schedule

  • Indy Lights: Race 1, Sat., 5:10-6 p.m. ET; Race 2, Sun., 9;45-10:45 a.m. ET
  • Pro Mazda: Race 1, Sat. 11:50 a.m.-12:40 p.m. ET; Race 2, Sun. 4:30-5:20 p.m. ET
  • USF2000: Race 1, Sat., 8:40-9:20 a.m. ET; Race 2, Sat. 2-2:40 p.m ET

MRTI: Telitz gets creative to help racing career

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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To say that Belardi Auto Racing’s Aaron Telitz has endured a difficult start to the 2018 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires season would be an understatement. The Wisconsin native only completed four corners through the first three races – Races 1 and 2 at St. Petersburg, and Race 1 at Barber Motorsports Park – with St. Pete being especially problematic.

He took the pole for Race 1, but a crash during qualifying for Race 2 prevented him from actually starting. What’s more, the damage was so severe that the Belardi team needed a brand new chassis, with Telitz’s Dallara IL-15 damaged beyond repair.

They also had to borrow a car from Carlin for Race 2, but Telitz’s race ended after he got tangled up with Victor Franzoni in Turn 2 on Lap 1.

With the damage bill well into the six figures as a result, Telitz has taken to some unique, or rather, creative ways to raise money in the aftermath to help cover the costs. “Creative,” in this case, meaning Telitz is using his art skills.

An artist in his spare time, Telitz has begun selling his own original paintings to help raise money.

 “I’ve been to a lot of art shows and I see stuff and I go, ‘Holy cow, someone’s going to pay a thousand dollars for that thing?’” Telitz quipped in a story posted on the Milwaukee Journal.

In discussing his artistic abilities, Telitz added, “I’m working at getting better. I’d like to be able to paint some animals, those types of things. I got a request from Alexander Rossi to see if I could paint his dog. Unfortunately I can’t do that yet.”

Further, in a partnership with The Styled Garage, Telitz is selling his own merchandise, and accepting donations, to help his cause.

Telitz finished fourth in Race 2 at Barber on Sunday, and sits seventh in the Indy Lights championship, 59 points behind leader Pato O’Ward.

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