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Career-Best Finishes Highlight 2018 Opening Weekend

Indianapolis, Ind. (March 12, 2018) – After a six-month offseason, the Mazda Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires began their 2018 season on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. This year, Team Pelfrey is fielding eight cars in all three ladder series, including four rookies. In the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship, Julian van der Watt, Kyle Dupell and Bruna Tomaselli will pilot the signature Team Pelfrey yellow cars in the team's fourth year in the series. Pro Mazda Championship drivers Rafael "Rafa" Martins, Andres Gutierrez and Sting Ray Robb will contend for Team Pelfrey's fourth series championship this season. The talented duo of Neil Alberico and Shelby Blackstock round out the Team Pelfrey driver lineup in the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires series. One of the highlights of the weekend was the success of Shelby Blackstock, capturing a second-place finish in Race Two, his career-best finish in Indy Lights.

Neil Alberico (No. 2 Rising Star Racing / Gap Guard)

  • Qualifying One: 8th

  • Qualifying Two: 5th

  • Race One: 7th

  • Race Two: 5th

"Big thanks to all the Team Pelfrey guys for fighting adversity all weekend long. Qualifying fifth in the second qualifying session was a good achievement for us after just one day of running. I'm so proud of these guys to come in on such late notice and put together a crew capable of running at the front. Our Gap Guard and Rising Star Racing car was robbed of a podium today, but hopefully we can return for redemption in Barber."

Shelby Blackstock (No. 3 Starstruck / Gap Guard)

  • Qualifying One: 7th

  • Qualifying Two: 8th

  • Race One: 5th

  • Race Two: 2nd

"I feel bad for Aaron and Pato, but to come home with a podium, I'm so excited. For Neil and I to come home fifth and second is great. We were second and third there for a while, and that would have been beyond a win for the Pelfrey team. The deal came together on Sunday and we were at the track on Wednesday, so it's been pretty intense. I just kept my head down today, kept it clean and brought it home. It's great to get a podium in the first race, so we'll see what happens from here."

Rafael "Rafa" Martins (No. 80 Gap Guard / Applebee's)

  • Qualifying One: 12th

  • Qualifying Two: 12th

  • Race One: 16th

  • Race Two: 9th

"This weekend wasn't the way I wanted it to go to be honest; but practice was good. I did my first street race as well so I didn't know what to expect. In the end, the qualifying sessions weren't great. It wasn't the weekend we planned. I finished ninth in the final race, but in the first race I had a good start and had a guy collide with me in turn five. In the second race, had a good start as well and then they red-flagged the race because of the start then on the next restart it was another poor start. Basically, it wasn't the way I wanted to start my Mazda Road to Indy career. I just want to thank everyone back in Brazil for their support. It wasn't an easy process in signing to race with the team and race in America and thank you to everyone that helped me to be here."

Andres Gutierrez (No. 81 Prisma)

  • Qualifying One: 9th

  • Qualifying Two: 11th

  • Race One: 14th

  • Race Two: 8th

“It was a great first weekend competing in the Pro Mazda Championship. Obviously, I didn’t achieve the results that I wanted or the team wanted but it was a great learning experience racing against the Pro Mazda field. I want to thank Prisma, my family and Team Pelfrey for believing in me and supporting me and my dreams. I’m looking forward to getting back in the car soon and fighting for better results!”

Sting Ray Robb (No. 82 Trademark Dental / Munk Family Dental /

  • Qualifying One: 6th

  • Qualifying Two: 4th

  • Race One: 6th

  • Race Two: 4th

"It was good; I think we have room to improve, always, but definitely looking back at the video from yesterday and today we know where I can be better as a driver and it's a big learning year for me, as I haven't had this race craft experience and car experience. Race by race, we're going to improve and I think if we maintain consistency, we'll be fine. I can't thank the Team Pelfrey guys enough, they've worked hard these past couple days putting cars back together and getting things ready to go along with, Trademark Dental, Munk Family Dental and everyone else out there whose been cheering for me."

Julian van der Watt (No. 80 Race Driver SA / Crossley & Webb)

  • Qualifying One: 11th

  • Qualifying Two: 6th

  • Race One: 5th

  • Race Two: 11th

“It was a really good learning experience. I think we should really good potential and front-running pace. The first race we finished fifth after starting 11th and we were happy about. In the second race, we were up to sixth on the late race restart (second to the last lap) and we got knocked on the back of the car and a couple of guys came past. I think we’ve shown really good pace for the rest of the season and I’m really excited. The team did a great job and was amazing.”

Kyle Dupell (No. 81 Opal Creek Capital / Pro Race Management)

  • Qualifying One: 18th

  • Qualifying Two: 16th

  • Race One: 9th

  • Race Two: 15th

“Saturday was a lot better than today, which we really struggled. We made some changes to the car but the yellows (caution laps) really caught us out. I’m really happy with the weekend overall than when we started. I just want to thank Opal Creek Capital, Team Pelfrey, Mazda and everyone with the Mazda Road to Indy.”

Bruna Tomaselli (No. 82 Bruna & Bia)

  • Qualifying One: 13th

  • Qualifying Two: 7th

  • Race One: 7th

  • Race Two: 14th

“The first race of the weekend was good for us. We showed great pace and I think we started the race prepared and we worked hard the whole weekend. In the first race I finished seventh and in the second race, the track was quite different after the INDYCAR race earlier in the day and we ended up finishing 14th. We know I am competitive and the team is really competitive and we’re going to work hard at the next race.”

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