It was the fourth career Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires win for the Juncos Racing sophomore, who hails from Grimsby, Ontario, a quick one hour drive down Queen Elizabeth Way from the 1.755 mile, 11-turn Exhibition Place street circuit.
Starting from pole for the first time this season, the 20-year-old held the lead through the first seven turns of a wet track for the Cooper Tires Pro Mazda Grand Prix of Toronto, but yesterday's race winner Florian Latorre of Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing was able to sneak underneath Grist in Turn 8.
On Lap 2, championship contender Neil Alberico slapped the Turn 2 wall with his No. 3 Cape Motorsports machine to bring out the first of two cautions of the day. The caution was extended to Lap 8 when Victor Franzoni tagged the wall with his No. 21 M1 Racing car in Turn 11 after spinning in yellow flag conditions.
Coming back to the green flag, race leader Latorre spun in Turn 11, handing the point back to Grist and necessitating an extension of yellow flag conditions for one more lap.
Weiron Tan (Andretti Autosport) and Timothe Buret (Juncos Racing) were the other beneficiaries of the Latorre incident as they were able to slide into potential podium positions. Buret, who was looking for his second straight podium "North Of The Border" held the third spot until lap 13 when he misjudged his braking point in Turn 3 and fell to sixth position.
Buret's misfortune opened the door for 16-year-old Pato O'Ward to score his second straight podium, and also allowed his Team Pelfrey teammate and championship leader Santiago Urrutia to extend his points lead. The 18 year-old from Uruguay currently holds a 30 point lead over Alberico. Jose Gutierrez of Juncos Racing rounded out the top five.
The race ended under caution on lap 17 when the No. 14 of Alessandro Latif (World Speed Motorsports) tangled with Latorre. Latif was later penalized 20 seconds for avoidable contact.
Raoul Owens of Team Pelfrey made a clean sweep of the driver contingency awards which included the Quarter Master Hard Charger Award for advancing from 14th to sixth, the Staubli Award and the RePlay XD Move of the Race for his series of passes on the opening lap. The PFC Award went to the winning team of Juncos Racing.
Jay Horak of M1 Racing took home Expert Class honors.
The Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires will be back on track July 17-18 when the series heads to Iowa Speedway for the second and final oval race of the season.
Garett Grist (No. 5 Lander Property Management - Juncos Racing) - "I think Florian's car was set up more for the wet while my car was set up for the dry, so he could put his car places I couldn't put mine early in the race. But as soon as it started to dry, my car came to life and I could pull away. I accelerated pretty hard coming back to the green flag and when he spun, I had to get on the brakes pretty hard to avoid him. I worked on the car throughout the race, on traction, bias, everything I could to find the balance between the wet and dry handling. When the conditions are changing like that, it's a bit of a gamble and I'm glad we picked right. It's been a difficult start to the year. I've been happy with my driving but we've had some issues out of our control that took us out of races but the guys have worked hard and you could see that this weekend. I was back up front, where we belong. And it's great to get a win here. I've been coming to this event since I started racing karts, watching guys like (James) Hinchcliffe, so this is great."
About Pro Mazda: The Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires debuted in 2013 as a new series, replacing the Star Mazda Championship which ceased operation in 2012 after 22 years. The series is sanctioned by INDYCAR and owned and operated by Andersen Promotions. It is the second official step on the Mazda Road to Indy ladder system with the series' champion awarded a scholarship package from Mazda to advance to Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires competition the following year. For more information, visit www.promazdachampionship.com.
About Mazda, Mazda Motorsports, and MAZDASPEED: Mazda is a leading player in all aspects of sports car racing with an emphasis on endurance road racing. Mazda is the number-one brand for road-racers across North America among both club racers and professionals. Thousands of Mazda-powered grassroots racers compete in various classes with the SCCA and NASA highlighted by Spec Miata, the world's largest spec class with over 2,500 cars built. Via the Mazda SportsCar Racing Academy and the Mazda Road to Indy, Mazda supports racers at all levels of the sport from club racing up to the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship where it races with production SKYACTIV Technology.
Mazda remains the only Asian car company to score an overall win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans (1991). Mazda has had a naming rights agreement at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca since 2000.
Mazda Motorsports is managed by Mazda North American Operations (MNAO). MNAO is headquartered in Irvine, Calif., and oversees the sales, marketing, parts and customer service support of Mazda vehicles in the United States and Mexico through nearly 700 dealers. Operations in Mexico are managed by Mazda Motor de Mexico in Mexico City.
Consumer information can be found at www.mazdausa.com, with press information at www.mazdausamedia.com. Racers and fans can follow the action on Facebook (Mazda Motorsports), Twitter (@mazdaracing), Instagram (MazdaMotorsport) and www.mazdamotorsports.com.
About Cooper Tire & Rubber Company: Cooper Tire & Rubber Company, together with its subsidiaries, is a leading designer, manufacturer and marketer of innovative, great-performing tires that people depend on for all of life's road trips, whether on city streets, off-road adventures or high-speed tracks. In fact, Cooper Tire is proud to sponsor and race in all three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy development program within the IndyCar racing series. Cooper tires can also been seen on the track as a sponsor of the IMSA Prototype Lites Series, and competing in the short course off-road TORC Series. Headquartered in Findlay, Ohio, Cooper, together with its subsidiaries, has manufacturing, sales, distribution, technical and design facilities in 11 countries around the world. This year, as we head into our second century in the tire industry, Cooper is looking toward a future where innovation will continue to drive our products and our products will continue to drive the world. To connect with Cooper Tire, visit www.coopertire.com, www.facebook.com/coopertire or www.twitter.com/teamcoopertire.
Contact: Tamy Valkosky, Public Relations