For the second time in two weeks in the Indianapolis area, a young Canadian scored his first victory in the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires. This time it was Garett Grist, driving for Andretti Autosport, who led from flag to flag May 24 in the Allied Building Products Oval Challenge at the 0.686-mile Lucas Oil Raceway oval as part of the 69th Annual Visit Hendricks County Night Before the 500.
Countryman Scott Hargrove, who turned the trick for Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing two weeks ago on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, finished second, ousting front-row starter and championship leader Spencer Pigot (Juncos Racing) with six laps remaining in the fast-paced 90-lap race.
Grist took full advantage of his hard-won pole position by holding off Pigot and Blackstock at the start, with Nicolas Costa, making his first start for Pelfrey Racing, jumping into fourth ahead of Hargrove and Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing teammate Neil Alberico.
The race quickly settled into a pattern, with Grist and Pigot setting a torrid pace at the head of the pack and Blackstock gradually slipping behind in third place. On Lap 45, Grist's No. 27 car suddenly stepped out from underneath him in Turn 3. The youngster managed to regain control, but suddenly Pigot was alongside as the leaders sped past the grandstands and into Turn 1. Grist, however, fought off the attack and soon began to edge clear to cement his victory.
"I was able to settle down into a rhythm after Spencer had put some pressure on me," Grist said. "Once I settled down into my rhythm we slowly pulled away and I think we managed traffic a lot better than the rest. I could definitely use all the lanes and not lose any time going down low which is a lot like I had last year in the USF2000 race. I am really happy the car was that good and we were able to do that."
Pigot and Hargrove are separated by three points (180-177) as the Pro Mazda Championship moves on to the streets of Houston for Rounds 8 and 9 in conjunction with the Verizon IndyCar Series on June 28-29.