Aaron Telitz says he’s focused on producing “good results” for AIM Vasser Sullivan and Lexus first, with a potential points swing only “icing on the cake” if the race falls his way this weekend at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.
Telitz, who started the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season in the No. 12 Lexus RC F GT3 at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, rejoins Frankie Montecalvo and Townsend Bell for the second round of the Michelin Endurance Cup, after four races in the team’s sister No. 14 car.
A previous sponsor arrangement has effectively given the 28-year-old Wisconsin native a chance of winning the GT Daytona championship, should the No. 12 Lexus end up winning or finishing multiple positions ahead of the No. 14 car of Jack Hawksworth this weekend.
While currently sitting third in the GTD points race, Telitz trails his season-long co-driver Hawksworth by three points.
With plans to return to the No. 14 Lexus for the remainder of the season, Saturday’s six-hour enduro will be the only chance for Telitz to even up or potentially surpass Hawksworth in the points standings.
Despite the rare opportunity, Teltiz told Sportscar365 that he’s taking a team-first approach and not getting too wrapped up in the points implications.
“Honestly at the start of the year when I was three points behind Jack when I joined the 14 car, I was just happy to be getting an opportunity to drive,” he said.
“I’m just really happy to be able to put my butt in a car that’s got chances of winning and being on the podium.
“Whether I beat the 14 car to get the points to be in the lead of the championship, that would be some icing on the cake for me.
“My main goal is to get good results for the team and help out the 12 guys out this weekend. And if helps me out… awesome.”
Telitz, who had been slated to contest only the Endurance Cup races this year, was drafted in to replace the departed Parker Chase in the No. 14 Lexus alongside Hawksworth in the build-up to IMSA’s season restart at Daytona in July.
It has resulted in a potent combination that has produced two class wins, a pole and an additional podium finish that has put AVS and Lexus in a tight title fight with Meyer Shank Racing and Acura.
While stepping away from the No. 14 Lexus for this weekend only, Telitz said he feels equally at home alongside Bell and Montecalvo, having contested the entire Endurance Cup with the duo in 2019.
“I love the 12 guys as well,” he said. “The whole environment there when I joined the AIM Vasser Sullivan team in 2019 with Townsend and Frankie, we get along great.
“I think I’ll be able to contribute more to the 12 car than I had before when I had limited experience, in only hopping in for the endurance rounds.
“Now I’ve got more races under my belt, more experience driving with Jack in the 14 car. So I feel I’ll be more ready to contribute to the the 12 car.”
Telitz explained that a planned tie-in with his sponsor, Rice Lake Weighing Systems, and Montecalvo’s family-run Bayshore Recycling had been in the works for the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen and is the reason he’s back in the No. 12 car this weekend in the replacement race for the canceled Watkins Glen round.
“COVID has kind of put the kibosh on that at Watkins Glen,” he said. “Rice Lake Weighing Systems provides the scales that Bayshore Recycling uses at their facilities, which is a cool tie-in with sponsorship business-to-business.
“It was totally random. When I joined the team I had no idea that’s what Frankie’s company did. It was one of those happy coincidences. So we’re happy to be promoting that and getting the opportunity to do it for a race.”
Track Time Crucial for No. 14 Lexus This Weekend
Hawksworth, meanwhile, has admitted that track time will be critical in getting his two co-drivers, Daniel Morad and Michael de Quesada up to speed in the No. 14 Lexus this weekend.
Morad is set for his team and Lexus debut while de Quesada has so far only taken part in the season-opening Rolex 24, where the No. 14 Lexus finished ninth in class.
When asked about Telitz’s move back to the No. 12 car for one race, Hawksworth told Sportscar365 that it “doesn’t make much difference” to him.
“At the end of the day it’s the team’s decision,” he said. “It would be nice to drive with Aaron because I feel like he’s done a good job and we have very good chemistry having worked together for four races.
“We’ll put that to one side and approach the race weekend how I would with any other teammate or any other weekend I’m driving with someone else.
“We have two solid guys in Dan and Michael.
“The kind of struggle this weekend is that we have such limited track time with the reduced two practice schedule. I don’t think Michael or Dan have sat in a race car since January and Dan has never sat in our Lexus RC F GT3 before.
“We’re going to have to make sure we get them comfortable and happy with the car, happy with driver changes and pit stops and pit lane procedures with our car and all that kind of stuff you take for granted.
“We’ll get them up to speed and comfortable and hopefully we can get the car into a good window. Those guys have the talent to deliver a good result for the team.”