Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

Telitz, Belardi plan for encore campaign in Indy Lights

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Aaron Telitz and Belardi Auto Racing have announced their intent to run the full 2018 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires season, with a partial budget already procured and a bit more still to find.

The Birchwood, Wis. native who now lives in Minneapolis book-ended the season in Indy Lights with wins at St. Petersburg in his debut, and at Watkins Glen in the rain – both of which were standout performances to the IndyCar paddock. He finished sixth in points, and third among a deep rookie field that also included Colton Herta (his baseball rival) and Matheus Leist.

Telitz is the first Indy Lights driver officially announced for 2018, but is one of several expected for the Belardi, Andretti Autosport and Juncos Racing teams. Further confirmation of those will come in the new year.

As noted, Telitz currently has a partial budget for the season, and he and his management team continue talks with prospective marketing partners. The 26-year-old is confirmed to start the season, and will once again be paired with Brian Belardi’s staff of experienced race engineers to pick up where they left off last year, having dominated the wet weather action in the season finale at Watkins Glen.

“It’s a great feeling to be coming back with Belardi Auto Racing to have another go at the Indy Lights Championship,” Telitz enthused. “This will be the first time in my career that I get to drive for the same team in back-to-back years. The continuity is already there and we will be a force from the drop of the green flag at St. Pete.”

“As always, funding could be a limiting factor for me this season as I will be working to finish out my budget throughout the season,” he added. “Brian has been gracious enough to work with me and figure out how we can make it work this year. I want to offer a massive thanks to my long-time partner Rice Lake Weighing Systems, who have been with me since Formula Fords and continue to ensure my racing career is able to flourish. Also thanks to Morrie’s Auto Group, PPG, Assured Automotive, Styled Aesthetic, Liberty Engineering, and Bell Helmets, who are all on-board to assist in my run at the championship in 2018. I know that we will have our work cut out for us, but I’m confident that we can get the job done and bring the Driver Championship back to Belardi in 2018!”

Telitz will look to go for the title in his second season. One of the more successful drivers on the Mazda Road to Indy, Telitz has 10 wins among Indy Lights, the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires (where he won the 2016 title) and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda series. The Pro Mazda title netted him the Soul Red colors this past season. He paid it forward by putting forth a self-imposed carbon fee on his racing program.

Belardi, who still plans to run three and potentially four cars in Indy Lights next season, is enthused about having at least one of his 2017 drivers back.

“I’m incredibly excited about how our team is developing for 2018, and being able to run Aaron again next year is such a huge positive for our organization,” he said. “As a rookie last year, he showed us his talents immediately, winning the opener at St. Petersburg. As he continued to develop in the car, he became even more impressive. I believe that his performance in the rain at Watkins Glen is a real indication of just how good Aaron is and how good he could become. We’re thrilled to have him back.”

IMSA results, points, stats package after Sunday at Road America

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Helio Castroneves and Ricky Taylor delivered Team Penske’s first victory this season in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, winning at Road America from the pole position Sunday and moving up to sixth in points after finishing no better than seventh in the first three races this season.

The Team Penske No. 7 Acura DPi led a race-high 48  of 63 laps, including the final four after Castroneves seized a restart to take first from Renger van der Zande, who finished second with Ryan Briscoe in the No. 10 Cadillac DPi.

Other class winners at the Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, road course were the No. 81 ORECA LMP2 07 of Henrik Hedman and Ben Hanley in LMP2, the No. 3 Corvette C8.R of Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor in GTLM and the No. 12 Lexus RC F GT3 of Townsend Bell and Frankie Montecalvo in GTD.

RAIN-SOAKED RELIEF: Castroneves delivers Penske’s first win with late pass

Here are the race stats, points and results from the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race at Road America:


RESULTS: Click here for the overall finishing order and here for the class breakdown.

POINTS: In the DPi standings, the No. 10 Cadillac of Briscoe and van der Zande leads by six points (124-118) over the No. 5 Cadillac of Joao Barbosa and Sebastien Bourdais.

The No. 3 Corvette of Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor leads the GTLM standings with 130 points, 10 more than the No. 912 Porsche of Earl Bamber and Laurens Vanthoor.

In GTD, the No. 12 Lexus of Bell and Montecalvo moved into the lead by four points (121-117) over AIM Vasser Sullivan teammates Jack Hawksworth and Aaron Telitz in the No. 14 Lexus.

The No. 38 of Performance Tech Motorsport leads in LMP2.

Click here for the points standings for drivers and teams after Road America.

STATS PACKAGE FOR ROAD AMERICA:

Fastest laps by driver

Fastest laps by driver after race

Fastest laps by driver and class after race

Fastest lap sequence

Leader sequence

Lap chart

Race analysis by lap

NEXT: The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s GT classes will race Aug. 21-22 at Virginia International Raceway.