After taking his first-career podium in the Verizon IndyCar Series, Spencer Pigot has paid tribute to his Ed Carpenter Racing team for their efforts in the 2018 Iowa Corn 300. The American driver took second place at Iowa Speedway, despite having qualified all the way back in eighteenth place.
Heading into the race weekend at Iowa, Pigot had some confidence having taken just his second top ten finish of the season. It has been somewhat of a tough year for the twenty-four-year-old, after having failed to finish any higher than fourteenth in the first six races of the season. He finally broke into the top ten at the first race of the Duel in Detroit, with an eighth place finish following a few races later at Road America.
In first practice at Iowa, Pigot completed forty laps and set the sixth best lap-time. In qualifying, however, things changed rapidly. Multiple drivers who took to the track to complete their two laps of qualifying reported that they had a lot less grip than they had in first practice. Pigot was one of those drivers.
Spencer struggled to find speed on his run, meaning that he would qualify way down in eighteenth place, with team-mate Ed Carpenter much further up in ninth place.
“It was definitely tricky,” Pigot said after qualifying, “This morning, we had a pretty good run and I was really happy with the Fuzzy’s Vodka car. This afternoon, we just didn’t really have the grip. I was struggling with front grip and also with rear grip on both ends of the track. Hopefully, we can find some more pace tonight.”
In the final practice session in the evening after qualifying, Pigot would not advance his position on the time-sheets. He was down in the twentieth position, but he logged seventy laps and gained valuable data for the race. Data that, seemingly, paid off.
At the drop of the green flag, Pigot gained ground immediately. His #21 Chevrolet was one of the fastest cars in the field and he soon found himself fighting toward the front of the order. Entering the final fifty laps of the race, Pigot was running as high as second place, but he soon lost positions to James Hinchcliffe and Robert Wickens. Hinchcliffe went on to overtake race-leader Josef Newgarden, but a caution with seven laps to go would interrupt proceedings.
It was Pigot’s boss, Carpenter, who brought out the caution after tagging the wall and almost spinning. With so little laps remaining, Newgarden and Wickens opted to make a gamble and pit for fresh tyres, hoping that the race would restart and that they would have a chance to use their extra grip to steal the victory.
However, the race would not be restarted. What’s more, Pigot had stayed out on the track, along with Takuma Sato. This meant that they had jumped Newgarden and Wickens and stolen their podium finishes right at the last moment. Pigot would come home in second place to take his first-career podium.
After stepping out of his Chevrolet post-race, Pigot would heavily praise his Ed Carpenter Racing crew for the effort they had put in to bounce back from a disappointing qualifying to take second place.
“What a race,” Spencer said, “Right from the get-go, we had a good car based on how we were getting through traffic. As the stint went on I thought we just got stronger and stronger. To find our way up near the front there was a little unexpected to start the day, but I’m really proud of everyone at Ed Carpenter Racing Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet – I mean they gave me a great car.
“We didn’t have a great day yesterday, but everyone kept their heads down and kept pushing and we’re on the podium. I’m very excited and very proud of everyone here on the team.
“It feels great. My first podium in INDYCAR, hopefully, the first of many. What a tough race. It was really physical out there. It was hot and a lot of hard racing, so many close moments, but so much fun racing here in Iowa.”
It had been a long road for Pigot to get to his first IndyCar podium. A former champion in the Pro Mazda Championship and in Indy Lights, Pigot credits much of his success to his family; who had supported him through his junior career.
Spencer’s mother, Shelby, was at Iowa Speedway to see his maiden rostrum finish. According to Spencer, she was perhaps the most excited person at the track:
“Yeah, the first time I saw my mom after I got out of the car, she was screaming and running around, and she didn’t even know I was there,” he said, “I was like, ‘Mom, I’m right here!’
“It’s a huge family effort. They’ve been supporting me, my parents, since I started racing when I was 9 years old, and it’s always been a family dream and a family goal to be racing Indy cars. This is the first Indy car race my dad hasn’t been here for, so he’s missing out, but he’ll be there in Toronto and looking forward to seeing him. It means a lot to everyone in the family.”
Spencer will not have too much time to celebrate his podium, as the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series continues this weekend with the twelfth round of the season, the 2018 Honda Indy Toronto on Sunday, July 15.