WATKINS GLEN, New York – On a cold and callous afternoon, there were still encouraging moments for Spencer Pigot despite an undesirable finish in the INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen.
The 23-year-old from Orlando, Florida, started from 13th on the grid Sunday, but had an early adventure on Lap 4 when he executed a perfect 360-degree spin at the exit of Turn 9 and kept going without contacting the wall. It relegated him to 18th place, but a timely caution just two laps later allowed Pigot to go slightly off strategy.
The move eventually played to his benefit as the 2015 Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires champion inherited the lead on Lap 15 when a majority of the field pitted under the second caution of the 60-lap race. Pigot was in first place for eight laps in the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet, the first time in his 21 starts that he has led a Verizon IndyCar Series race.
The off-sequence strategy kept him in the hunt at times, but Pigot ultimately finished the race at Watkins Glen International in 12th-place finish on the 11-turn, 3.37-mile permanent road course.
"It was an up-and-down race for us,” Pigot said. “We were near the back, other times we were near the front and at one point we were leading. It just flip-flopped throughout the race.
“I made a mistake at the beginning and spun, dropping us to the back. Then on the pit stop sequence, we were able to leapfrog the field. It was nice to lead a few laps. I had to top off on fuel and get a new set of tires towards the end, which put us near the back for the final start. We got a few positions back, but overall I thought we would be able to finish a bit higher up.”
A part-time driver for Ed Carpenter Racing – Pigot drives the No. 20 Chevy on road and street circuits while team owner Carpenter has it for the ovals – Pigot has been bitten by ill-timed strategy at various venues this season. Although he’s the first to admit that getting the lead on a fuel sequence and not “on merit” is far from ideal, it provided some satisfaction to restart a race with a clear track ahead and a mirror of his fellow competitors behind him.
“It’s nice to restart the race and not have anyone in front of you so you can just kind of put your head down and try to pull away,” said Pigot. “In the end, the end result is pretty much all that matters.
“We just had to make another late pit stop to top up for fuel and some new tires so that just kind of put us back there in the pack.”
Pigot and the rest of his Verizon IndyCar Series competitors conclude their 2017 season Sept. 15-17 with the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma on the 2.385-mile permanent road course at Sonoma Raceway. The race to decide the 2017 champion airs live at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCR Radio Network.