The Andretti Autosport Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires trio will take the opportunity to climb inside the cockpit of an Indy car for a Verizon IndyCar Series test at Watkins Glen International in two weeks. The August 11 test will serve as the next step to reaching a career goal for these young drivers as all three aspire to race in the Verizon IndyCar Series within the next few years.
Shelby Blackstock will sit behind the wheel of teammate Marco Andretti's No. 27 car for his maiden test. Blackstock has climbed the entire Mazda Road to Indy ladder with Andretti Autosport and is looking forward to continuing his progress to the next step by participating in the test.
Blackstock, a veteran Indy Lights driver, is no stranger to the Watkins Glen International track. "The Glen" was home of the first race Blackstock ever attended where he worked as a crew member for a team competing on the circuit. He also has on-track experience competing in races for both the Skip Barber Summer Series and the Continental Tires Sports Car Challenge in years past.
"I have a lot of history at Watkins Glen and it brings back a lot of great memories just saying the name," said Blackstock. "Seven years ago I went to The Glen as part of the Jim Click's Mustang Challenge team as a crew member. It was the first road course race I had ever been to and it was an eye opener. I did every job possible on the team in one weekend, but that's where my journey at The Glen (and in racing) started. Over the years, I've been a crew member, raced Skip Barber and CTSCC (Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge) there and now sever years later after entering the track for the first time, I finally get to do my first Indy car test there. Words can't describe how excited I am for this opportunity to finally get to drive my dream car. This is my fifth year at Andretti Autosport after completing the entire MRTI (Mazda Road To Indy) program with them and now finally getting to test one of their Indy cars! I can't thank Michael and Andretti Autosport enough for giving me this opportunity and I can't wait to get on track!"
Toronto native Dalton Kellett will borrow the No. 26 car from Carlos Munoz for the rookie's first Indy car experience. While earning a degree in engineering physics from Queens University, Kellett began competing with the Andretti team in 2014 in the Pro Mazda Presented by Cooper Tires championship. The 22 year old Canadian finished third at this year's Freedom 100 and sits 12th in Indy Lights championship standings.
Unlike Blackstock, Kellett has no experience on the pavement of Watkins Glen International. A new circuit and a different car will be a change the rookie is hopeful he will adapt to quickly, giving him experience in both the Indy car and on the 11-turn 3.40-mile circuit.
"I am extremely excited for my first Indy car test and I am very grateful to do so with Andretti Autosport," said Dalton Kellett. "There are going to be differences between the Indy Lights car and the Indy car for me to adapt to. I expect the biggest adjustments will be getting used to the braking and cornering performance. The Indy car is going to be much more physically demanding, but I have been training hard and I feel like I am prepared. I'm also looking forward to learning the pit procedures and feeling the increase in power. I haven't raced or tested at The Glen so this will be a complete learning experience for me, with a new car and new track. I am happy to be able to learn from and work with Andretti Autosport for this amazing opportunity."
Former Formula 2 Champion, Dean Stoneman, will also test out "The Glen" for the first time and is eager to get back in a car similar to the size and power of those he has previously driven. The Englishman, currently fifth in Indy Lights Championship standings, will pilot the No. 28 DHL car currently driven by 2014 Indianapolis 500 and 2012 Series Champion Ryan Hunter-Reay.
Stoneman has collected two victories in the 2016 season; including Andretti Autosport's first-ever Freedom 100 win on the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway Oval. With eight top-five finishes in 13 races, Stoneman has built an impressive resume on the American racing circuit. Stoneman's test will give him a glimpse of what his future may hold as well as give him familiarity on a course he is set to drive over Labor Day weekend.
"Can't wait to get into Ryan's car for the IndyCar test at Watkins Glen. To be there testing at an iconic US circuit will be great." Stoneman stated, "I have been watching the big guys all season so I'm going to enjoy finally testing one. I came to Indy Lights with a view of moving up to IndyCar, which has always been the goal that I'm working on for 2017, so the test will give everybody some indication of my ability. In 2010 I was invited to test Williams F1 car in Abu Dhabi and seemed to really impress everyone, so I'm hoping we can do the same sort of job with Andretti as I look to next year."
Michael Andretti is pleased to give the young potential of his team the opportunity to test for the Verizon IndyCar Series at Watkins Glen International.
"We're proud of the role Andretti Autosport has played over the years in the Mazda Road to Indy program," Michael Andretti said "and I applaud the efforts of the program in helping to develop future Verizon IndyCar Series drivers. By giving Dean, Shelby and Dalton an opportunity to test our Indy cars, we can help do our part in building a stronger future not just for our team, but for the sport and industry as a whole."
The trio will also share the track with veteran drivers, including 2016 Indianapolis 500 winner and teammate Alexander Rossi.
All three drivers will compete this weekend at Mid Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio for Rounds 14 and 15 of Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires competition.