Aaron Telitz: St. Pete Recap
Greetings new readers! I’ll be keeping you entertained on my rookie season in Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tires.
I just got back from St. Petersburg after an epic road trip with my family. It wasn’t too rough though. Riding in a car with your family for 23 hours is a lot easier after you’ve just won your first Pro Mazda race in only your second try. Although, the first leg on Monday was a bit of a struggle after attending a couple St. Pete afterpartys.
This was my third year racing on the Streets of St. Petersburg. The past two years I was in a USF2000 car. So I was familiar with the course it was just a matter of getting used to driving the larger, more powerful Pro Mazda car through the ‘concrete jungle’. Fortunately we had two full practice sessions void of any issues so I was able to get right up to speed and top the practice times on Friday! My teammates Pato O’Ward and Weiron Tan were hot on my heels so I knew qualifying would be close.
The track was was nice and grippy Saturday morning after having lots of IndyCar rubber put down in practice the day before. My Rice Lake Weighing Systems/Team Pelfrey car was handling great and I put in a couple nice laps. Nothing groundbreaking, but solid laps nonetheless. I missed pole by less than one tenth of a second to Pato. But as a small consolation I had the second fastest lap which would put me on pole for race two!
There was a short two hour wait before we had to head to the grid for the first race of the year. I was feeling very confident in my race pace and knew I just needed a clean start. I made it through turn one clean and slotted in behind Pato. The race was a bit processional from there if I’m honest. I didn’t get through lapped traffic very well and the gap grew too much to try and run Pato down in the closing stages of the race. I was very pleased with finishing 2nd in my first ever Pro Mazda race! The 40 minute race was a bit more physical than the 30 minute USF2000 races I was used to but I enjoyed the added challenge.
I was psyched to get race two underway but I had to hold all of my excitement in for a LONG time as race two didn’t take place until 4:30 PM Sunday! This made it a bit harder to really enjoy the IndyCar race because I had to keep my game face on all day. But at long last 4:30 rolled around and I was ready to go to work. I got a good start and made a clean first lap taking Pato along with me. Pato was definitely driving extremely hard to find a way around me but I held on and controlled the pace of the race. This eventually paid off and ended up pulling a gap of almost three seconds by the checkered flag!
Winning is always a great feeling but this one had an extra layer of awesome. It was a bit of validation after struggling for wins last season. To come out as strong as I have so far in Pro Mazda gives me a huge boost and takes a
bit of weight off my shoulders. I’m going to keep loose and keep doing my thing this year!
I’d like to give a giant thanks to everyone who has helped make this season possible including, Team Pelfrey, Rice Lake Weighing Systems, Rising Star Racing, Fred Thomas Resort, Mazda, Cooper Tires, Team USA Scholarship,Linear Sport, my parents, and all of you!
You guys rock,