The top two protagonists for the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, Spencer Pigot and Scott Hargrove, are separated by just 14 points with three races remaining this season.
There is a great deal at stake as the series heads to West Allis, Wis., for the Aug. 16 Allied Building Products Pro Mazda Oval Challenge on the historic Milwaukee Mile.
Pigot, 20, from Orlando, Fla., currently leads the way for Juncos Racing on the strength of five wins during his sophomore Pro Mazda campaign. He finished a strong third at Milwaukee last year and previously earned a top-six finish when the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda visited the track in 2011.
Rookie Hargrove, 19, from Vancouver, B.C., has not previously raced at Milwaukee but impressed on the shorter Lucas Oil Raceway oval in May when he finished second for Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing, one place ahead of Pigot. Hargrove already has three race wins to his credit this year, plus five more podium finishes.
Grist to the Mill
The battle for third place in the championship standings is equally intense. Neil Alberico (Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing), who finished a close second to teammate Hargrove in last year's USF2000 title chase, and Shelby Blackstock (Andretti Autosport) are currently separated by just 12 points, while Garett Grist (Andretti Autosport), Kyle Kaiser (Juncos Racing) and Nicolas Costa (Team Pelfrey) lie within 23 points of a top-three placing.
Grist, in particular, has come on strong in recent weeks. The Canadian rookie won emphatically at Lucas Oil Raceway in May, then scored again in the most recent race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course to close within two points of teammate Blackstock.
Brazilian Costa has been on a tear, too, claiming a win and a second at Mid-Ohio for the resurgent Team Pelfrey, which won the 2012 championship with rising Verizon IndyCar Series star Jack Hawksworth. Costa has finished no lower than fifth in the last five races since moving over to the Florida-based squad.
By the Numbers
Hargrove currently holds a 59-point lead over Alberico for BBS Rookie of the Year honors with Grist lying in third, 73 points in arrears.
In the team championship, Juncos Racing and Cape Motorsports are neck-and-neck with an eight-point spread separating the leaders for top honors while Team Pelfrey and Andretti Autosport battle for third in the placings, with only a seven-point margin between the two.