One day after earning his third pole position and third runner-up finish of the season, Shelby Blackstock guided his Andretti Autosport/Team Starstruck entry to a well-deserved first career victory in Round 10 of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires at the fast Canadian Tire Motorsport Park circuit.
Blackstock, a 23-year-old rookie from Nashville, Tenn., started second behind yesterday's first-time winner, Spencer Pigot. After shadowing the Team Pelfrey car for the first 11 laps, Blackstock took advantage of a slight slip by the 19-year-old to take the lead in Turn Eight and never looked back.
“This is a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. Matt [Brabham] has had his fair share of wins this season and it's nice for me to finally bring one in," said Blackstock. "Unfortunately, Matt had a really rough race and I am not sure what happened. When I saw Spencer [Pigot] get in the marbles, I took the position and once I went to the last corner I saw Diego, Scott and Spencer three wide and I said, 'OK, head down and dig.' I just did that and tried not to make any mistakes and made a gap. In the end, I am very, very happy that we are finally able to get the Starstruck team a win. It's a fantastic day.”
While Pigot lost another couple of places to Juncos Racing teammates Scott Anderson and Diego Ferreira over the next couple of corners, Blackstock put his head down in the lead which he had no trouble in protecting through the remainder of the 20-lap race.
Anderson, also 23, had started in sixth place but moved up two positions on lap Six when Nicolas Costa (Team Pelfrey) and championship leader Matthew Brabham (Andretti Autosport) collided in Turn Eight while disputing third place. The pair had also been in vigorous contention for the lead but were unable to resume.
After a full-course caution to remove Brabham's stranded car, Pigot once again took off in the lead, chased by Blackstock, while Anderson took advantage of a slight slip by Ferreira to move into third place, which became second just a couple of laps later when Blackstock made his move for the lead and Pigot found himself freight-trained down to fourth.
Blackstock took the checkered flag 2.056 seconds clear of Anderson – who was delighted with his first Pro Mazda podium finish – with Ferreira, Pigot and a closing local driver Zack Meyer (JDC MotorSports), from Toronto, rounding out the top five.
Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda regular Dalton Kellett also ran a strong race in his Pro Mazda debut this weekend. The Stouffville, Ont., native ran as high as fifth in a third Team Pelfrey car before being forced to make an unscheduled pit stop on lap 13 after an off-track excursion. He eventually recovered to finish in eighth.
Heading into Rounds 11/12 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in two weeks, Brabham continues to lead the championship standings at 273 with Ferreira (222), Blackstock (203), Pigot (185) and Anderson (162) completing the top five.
Contingency awards included the Staubli Award and the Quarter Master Hard Charger Award to Anderson for a gain of four positions from sixth to second, and the PFC Award to the winning team of Andretti Autosport.