Double for Grist Promotes him to Third in Pro Mazda Points Chase
Monterey, Calif. – The middle step of the Mazda Road to Indy was the first to reach the conclusion of its 2015 season today at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, with Canadian Garett Grist securing a weekend sweep in the Allied Building Products Pro Mazda Grand Prix of Monterey. The double victory propelled Grist from sixth in the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires points chase to third and allowed his Juncos Racing team to clinch the coveted Team Championship in style.
Santiago “Santi” Urrutia, who yesterday clinched the championship title as well as a $590,000 Mazda Scholarship prize to assist in his graduation to Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires in 2016, finished second – his ninth podium appearance during a stellar rookie season in North America – while Neil Alberico (Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing) bounced back from a spin on Saturday to finish third.
The 16th and final round of the Pro Mazda championship was interrupted by three full-course cautions due to a variety of one-car incidents. Grist, who qualified second behind Urrutia, made the decisive pass for the lead at Turn Two on the opening lap, then controlled the ensuing restarts to clinch his third victory of the season.
Urrutia made a bold move to the inside of Grist entering Turn Two immediately following a restart on Lap Five, locking up under heavy braking and initiating contact between the two cars, but Grist managed to maintain his advantage. Despite damage to his car’s right-front wing, Urrutia held on to second ahead of Alberico.
Will Owen (Juncos Racing) maintained his strong end to the season by finishing fourth ahead of Dalton Kellett (Andretti Autosport) and 16-year-old Texas-based Mexican Patricio “Pato” O’Ward, who bounced back impressively after being an innocent victim of an incident at the start of Saturday’s race. O’Ward took home the Quarter Master Hard Charger Award, having made up eight positions during the race, as well as the RePlay XD Move of the Race Award for the manner in which he vaulted from 14th to eighth on the first lap.
Other contingency awards included the Staubli Award to Kyle Connery, who finished 10th for JDC MotorSports, and the PFC Award to the winning car owner, Ricardo Juncos.
Juncos Racing’s fourth victory of the season enabled the Brownsburg, Ind.-based team to secure its second successive Team Championship by a commanding 39-point margin over Team Pelfrey.
Bobby Eberle, from Houston Texas, took the Expert class honors, for drivers over 30 years of age, for the 11th time in 15 starts, finishing 14th overall for the California-based World Speed Motorsports team.
Garett Grist (#5 Lander property Management-Juncos Racing): “I knew it was going to be a tough race, with Santi starting first and me starting second. But I got a good jump on the start and carried good momentum going up the hill and down into Turn Two. I was surprised he went to the outside, I thought he might try to lunge to the inside. So all I had to do was hold my line, I knew he wouldn’t be able to get around. It’s a great way to end the year. I really appreciate everything the guys at Juncos Racing have done. They’ve worked so hard, especially Peter (Dempsey, former Indy Lights driver). Peter and I communicate really well and he knows these cars so well. We started on the front row at each of the last seven races. It’s going to be a busy off season – I’ll be back in the Mazda Road to Indy, I just need to decide if I’m going to move up or stay in Pro Mazda.”