Interview

BLACKSTOCK: Belardi Auto Racing “Feels More Like Home”

In college and not sure what he should major in, Blackstock made a trip to the Skip Barber Driving School and impressed the coaches with his ability behind the wheel. They suggested he should partake in the Skip Barber Racing School, and from there, Shelby Blackstock hasn’t slowed down ever since.

This coming season, Blackstock will embark on his third season of Indy Lights competition, but with a different team than the past two years. Looking to switching things up, he left Andretti Autosport and joined Belardi Auto Racing.

“Everything has been going extremely well in off-season testing,” he told POPULAR SPEED. “I’m really looking forward to getting to the first race and seeing where we stack up. I know the team has a good street race car so I’m excited to get to St. Pete.”

Belardi Auto Racing is coming off a successful season which saw them score a total of six race wins and finish fourth in points with Zach Veach. The Indiana-based team has had success in Indy Lights before, previously winning the championship in 2014.

Blackstock hopes to repeat the success Veach, and the Belardi line-up produced last year, and feel it’s possible as he has been able to jell well with the team thus far, saying it “feels more like than I was used to.”

“In testing in everything with the new car, we’ve shown speed,” he said. “It’s going to be a battle, especially amongst my teammates throughout the season, and there will be drivers on other teams that will definitely bring their A-game. So there’s no really set expectations except to go out there and do the best that I can. There’s always going to things that you can’t control, and it’s about keeping those to a minimal and having some fun.”

If he were able to have success and be in the top-five, it’d mark a change over the past two years in the series. In 24 starts over the previous two years, he has scored only one podium, which came at Mid-Ohio in 2015. Interestingly, the podium with Andretti Autosport that season came after a test with Belardi Auto Racing.

“He worked extremely well with our engineers back then, and we were impressed in our recent test at Barber Motorsports Park as well,” team owner Brian Belardi said in November. “It’s exciting to have him signed to the team for 2017. He’ll be a great addition to our family.”

Ultimately if everything comes together, Blackstock could walk away with the Indy Lights Championship this season, which would give him a scholarship worth three Verizon IndyCar Series starts for 2018, including the Indianapolis 500.

“That’s what people strive for and try to get to,” he said. “That’s why we’re all out there in the Mazda Road to Indy, to get the scholarship and move on to the next level. Definitely want to go out as strong as I can in my Mazda Road to Indy career to bring confidence into the IndyCar Series.”

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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