Spencer Pigot impressive in final run before Indianapolis 500

Dana Garrett/INDYCAR

By Aaron Bearden, Motorsports Editor

SPEEDWAY, Ind. — Any who find the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) road course difficult for overtaking need look no further than Spencer Pigot to see how it can be done.

Driving in his final race before making a switch to Juncos Racing for the 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500, Pigot put on an enthralling display of passing in the opening stint of Saturday’s INDYCAR Grand Prix, marching from 16th to sixth in his first fuel run.

The 23-year-old driver seemed poised to contend for a top five when his No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing (ECR) Chevrolet stalled in team’s pit box during the first round of stops, costing the second-year Verizon IndyCar Series shoe precious time on-track.

Looking over the incident – which arguably robbed the open wheel prospect of the finish his machine deserved – Pigot yearned for understanding.

“It’s still kind of a mystery,” Pigot said. “I was full throttle and released the clutch how I usually do and for some reason just didn’t break the rear tires loose. I think there was a few other cars having some kind of issue as well. We’ll do some investigating and do what we can to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Impressively, Pigot and ECR overcame their woes to drive through the field a second time despite a lack of opportunities to close the gap in a caution-free race. The Pasadena, California native had rallied to ninth when the checkered flag flew.

“We finished ninth, but we know that we had the potential to finish at least in the top six,” Pigot said. “And it’s not like we finished ninth by getting a good yellow or by saving a lot of fuel or something. We know we could’ve been better, so it’s a little frustrating, but encouraging as well.”

The Californian also commended his ECR team for making changes throughout the weekend that saw the No. 20 Chevrolet come to life when it counted most.

“It seemed like yesterday we kind of struggled as the track got hotter, for whatever reason,” Pigot said “We made a few changes overnight and after warmup, and it seemed to be really good. I thought our pace was good, and I thought our tire (degradation) was pretty good compared to other cars. We weren’t falling off as hard I didn’t think.”

The result was just the latest in a string of impressive runs for Pigot in his brief tenure with ECR, following strong showings at Long Beach and Barber Motorsports Park. However, the run also continued a trend of the team failing to bring home the finish they believed they deserved, with a best run thus far of eighth in Long Beach.

“I think every race we’ve had has been really good,” Pigot said. “Our pace in the race has kind of been our most competitive section of the weekend. St. Pete, Barber, we had comfortable top 10s going there as well. Really, we should be four top 10s out of the first four races I think, but it’s racing and it never quite plays out that way. I think we’re going to have some really good finishes later on this year.”

 

Next up for Pigot is a change of teams and an adjustment in mindset.

Gone for two weeks are the familiar faces of series stalwart ECR, replaced by the fresh faces of new IndyCar team and Mazda Road to Indy veterans Juncos Racing. Pigot’s INDYCAR Grand Prix performance may give the sophomore momentum, but any gains outside of intangibles are temporarily negligible as the series shifts from a road course to the famed IMS oval.

“The (IndyCar) GP doesn’t have anything to do with the Indy 500, so it’s going to be a totally new ball game.,” Pigot said. “I’m excited to work with the guys at Juncos again. It may be their first race, but they’ve got a lot of good guys over there. They’ve been putting a lot of time and effort into those cars and they look beautiful, so I’m excited to get in one.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *