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Mazda Road to Indy

Urrutia to Belardi for 2017

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After posting a runner-up this past season, Santiago Urrutia is set to chase after the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires Championship once again – except with a different team.

With Schmidt Peterson Motorsports closing their Indy Lights team, Urrutia has joined Shelby Blackstock as part of the new line-up at Belardi Auto Racing for 2017.

“We’re extremely excited to being adding Santi to our stable of drivers for the 2016 season,” commented Brian Belardi, Team Owner. “We’re coming off a really strong season and our staff is highly motivated to make 2017 even better. Signing a driver of Santi’s caliber will once again put us into the fight for a championship. The entire team is fired up with the announcements of Santiago and Shelby and we’re hoping to confirm a third driver early in the new year.”

After winning the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires in 2015, the 20-year-old moved up to the top-tier of the Mazda Road to Indy last season. After posting a pair of fourths and a pair of finishes outside of the top-10 to start the season, he scored three podiums in the following three races, before a 14th place finish at Indianapolis. Despite having a ninth a week later at Road America, he began to find his groove after that, which allowed him to gain valuable ground in the standings. Six straight top-five finishes, including three wins, allowed him to go from third in point to leading the standings with three races to go.

Unfortunately, the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver lost ground at Watkin’s Glen as on Lap 18, his left front tire came apart heading to the esses, causing Urrutia to go off track and slowly complete that lap as the Uruguayan fell all the way to last place. He’d cross the finish line in the 14th position. Capping the year off with a fifth and a runner-up wasn’t enough to beat Ed Jones for the championship.

“We have a really strong crew and I believe that we are going to have one of the greatest teams in the paddock,” the Uruguay native commented, who is looking forward to getting back behind the wheel when the team returns to testing in early January. “I am very happy to sign with Belardi, as I was fighting with the team’s drivers all year in 2016. I have only one goal, and that is to win the championship, and I am going to try to win every race for the team. If I can’t win, I’ll be aiming for seconds and thirds, whatever I need to win the title. What happened at Laguna Seca in the finale is now in the past, and I am looking at the future. I have to thank all of my fans, my engineer, my sponsors in Uruguay and I want to thank Brian Belardi for believing in me.”

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 drove for Andretti Autosport last season, finishing eighth in points with 13 top-10, five top-five finishes, and the best result being fourth at Barber Motorsports Park and in the Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

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Ashley McCubbin

Currently the Executive Editor for Popular Speed, Ashley McCubbin also runs Short Track Musings, while handling media relations for OSCAAR. Currently living in Bradford, Ontario, she spends her weekend at the local short tracks in the area taking photos.