Team Pelfrey’s Baker and Krohn Touch on Magical Season

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MONTEREY, Calif. – Team Pelfrey expected to be competitive entering the 2016 Pro Mazda Championship presented by Cooper Tires, but they did not expect a form of dominance.

From the season opener at St. Petersburg in March to the finale at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on Sunday, the expectations shot above and beyond for the Florida-based outfit.

The Dale Pelfrey-owned operation won the Pro Mazda championship last season with Santiago Urrutia, but his departure after the season to further his career at the next level left an empty seat to be filled.

Patricio ‘Pato’ O’Ward returned for the second consecutive season, earning a series-high seven wins and ending the season second in the championship standings, while 2016 Cooper Tires USF2000 powered by Mazda runner-up Aaron Telitz joined up and charged to six wins, claiming the title and the $590,300 Mazda Road to Indy scholarship award in the process – allowing him to move up to the next level in the ladder to Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires. The team also added TJ Fischer to the lineup.

Combining to capture 13 victories in 16 events is something that neither sporting director Anders Krohn or operations manager Jonny Baker foresaw.

“No, not at all,” Krohn said.

“It’s been so many ups and downs I can’t even count. Here I am standing and we just won the driver and team championships, (we) dominated this year and still there’s mixed emotions because there’s only one scholarship out there and we really feel there is two drivers deserving of winning it.

“On one hand, I’m just so happy for Aaron and he’s so deserving, but on the other I’m so crushed for Pato. I guess that’s the downside to the competitive team we’ve had this year is that we’ve had two guys fighting against each other instead of one guy fighting against a bunch of other teams. At the end of the day it’s a luxury problem to have and I’m really thankful.

Baker chimed in and pointed to all of the offseason work the team went through, including rebuilding the car to put out a “super quick” Mazda before the year ever officially started.

“We were expecting to be competitive, because we won the championship with Santi Urrutia last year, so we were expecting to fight for the championship, but we did a lot of work over the winter,” Baker said. “We rebuilt the cars. Lots of testing and preseason camp to help with understanding how to drive the car and honing the package.

“So when we rolled out in March and we were super quick, we were like ‘Wow’, this thing exceeded our expectations and then went on to St. Pete and went 1-2-3 and it was everything that exceeded our expectations.

“Everybody was working so hard and everything was just being maxed.”

Krohn was quick to give credit to everyone involved with Team Pelfrey for its incredible success.

“We have the best guys in the business, hands down,” Krohn said. “We’ve had the best drivers this year, best crew from top to bottom. That’s been the reason for all this.”

“We were expecting to be competitive, because we won the championship with Santi Urrutia last year, so we were expecting to fight for the championship, but we did a lot of work over the winter,” Baker said. We rebuilt the cars. Lots of testing and preseason camp to help with understanding how to drive the car and honing the package. So when we rolled out in March and we were super quick, we were like ‘Wow’, this thing exceeded our expectations and then went on to St. Pete and went 1-2-3 and it was everything that exceeded our expectations.

“Everybody was working so hard and everything was just being maxed.”

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