Aaron Telitz

Aaron Telitz won two races and finished sixth in points in Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires, the top level of the Mazda Road to Indy.

So what was the 25-year-old from Wisconsin doing in a car at last weekend’s Chris Griffis Memorial Test in the entry-level MRTI division, the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship powered by Mazda? Getting track time any way he could.

“Fred Edwards (CEO of Metalloid Corporation), who works with RJB Motorsports, called me up,” Telitz explained. “They’ve got this new USF2000 car they wanted to test here and asked me if I would come down and help them out, so I said, ‘Yeah, that sounds good.’”

After winning the 2016 Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires, Telitz joined Belardi Auto Racing’s Indy Lights program but struggled to find consistency. He won the first race of the season at St. Petersburg and the season finale at Watkins Glen. In between, however, were just two podium finishes in 14 races.

Telitz is working toward an Indy Lights ride in 2018, but it’s a work in progress. As with many drivers, it comes down to dollars.

“I’d like to find some more money, that’d be great,” said Telitz. “Obviously that’s what everybody says, so that’s nothing new, but we’re working on some sponsorship deals that’ll hopefully allow us to get back into Indy Lights next year.

“Rice Lake Weighing Systems will be back on board. They’ve been a long-time supporter of mine, so we’re working on a couple of other business-to-business deals with a few other companies that will hopefully get us there. Hopefully you’ll see me back on the Indy Lights grid in 2018.”

Still, Telitz enjoyed his laps in USF2000, which has updated to the Tatuus USF-17 chassis since Telitz competed in the series in 2014-15. The Indy Lights car has nearly triple the horsepower (450 to 175) of the USF2000 car, much wider tires and much larger wings.

“It’s still fun, it’s a lot of fun,” Telitz said. “There’s no aero grip on the USF2000 car, very small wings, almost no diffuser really so it’s a good time. There’s a lot of mechanical grip, you can slide it around a little bit more, braking is a lot more exciting as you’re coming into corners.

“In the Lights car, you know you can brake with a ton of pressure and it slows down crazy fast, where the USF2000 car, you have to gingerly get it in there and it’s been fun. I like driving anything so I’m having a good time.”

Telitz completed a total of 68 laps in the RJB Motorsports entry. On the final day of the two-day test, he also hopped into a Pro Mazda car for Team Pelfrey, the team for whom he won the 2016 championship, for a quick 14 laps.