Long Beach, Calif. - Dubai-based Briton Ed Jones and his Carlin team kept their Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires winning streak alive with a fine performance in the Grand Prix of Long Beach Presented by Allied Building Products. Jones, however, was forced to work hard for his third win in a row by fellow rookie Spencer Pigot (Juncos Racing), who pulled off three impressive passes during an exciting 42-lap race on the unforgiving street circuit. Felix Serralles rounded out the podium for defending champion team Belardi Auto Racing.
The race began in dramatic fashion when third-place qualifier Kyle Kaiser (Juncos Racing) left his braking too late at Turn One and clattered into the rear end of top qualifier Jack Harvey (Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with Curb-Agajanian). Both cars ended up against the barriers, and Pigot had to work a minor miracle to avoid the incident as it unfolded directly to his left. Serralles, who started fifth, gratefully avoided the melee to emerge in the lead, followed by Jones and Schmidt Peterson teammates RC Enerson and Scott Anderson. Pigot resumed in fifth.
After three laps under caution to remove Kaiser's stricken car, Jones timed his restart to perfection and was able to slip ahead of Serralles on the run down Shoreline Drive. The two leaders soon began to edge away from Enerson, Anderson and Pigot who remained in close formation. Pigot, though, was anxious for more, and on Lap Eight pulled off a fine pass on Anderson under braking for Turn Nine. Six laps later, Pigot repeated the maneuver to take third place from Enerson, then quickly set about reducing a deficit of two seconds to the lead duo.
By Lap 19, Jones had edged away to a 1.7-second lead over Serralles, who now, instead of trying to find a way past Jones was instead focused on keeping Pigot in his mirrors. He wasn't able to do so for long. On Lap 21, Pigot once again braked as late as possible and dived to the inside in Turn Nine. Serralles tried his hardest to rebuff the challenge but slid a little wide on the exit and Pigot was through. The pass earned Pigot his second RePlay XD Move of the Race Award of the young season.
Moments later, another full-course caution was necessary after Juan Piedrahita (Belardi) and Harvey tangled in Turn Eight. The incident ended a miserable day for Harvey, who had returned to the fray five laps in arrears following the earlier incident and a lengthy pit stop for a new rear wing.
A total of 17 laps remained when the green flags waved again. Pigot, the winner of last year's Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, tried every trick in the book to find a way past Jones, but there was no hint of a mistake from the leader and he had to be content with second.
Serralles posted the fastest lap of the race (1:12.9009) on the very last lap as the top three finishers were covered by just 1.8 seconds. In total, seven cars bettered the existing track record of 1:13.8995 set by Conor Daly in 2011.
Enerson took his best finish in fourth, followed by ex-F1 racer Max Chilton (Carlin), who had started 10th after an incident in qualifying.
The Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires competitors will return to action next weekend with two more races when the entire Mazda Road to Indy runs once again in support of the Verizon IndyCar Series at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala.