ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Second-year Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda title contender Spencer Pigot had pressure threatening throughout the entire race, but held on to claim in second victory in as many days for himself and Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing.
Pigot, 18, from Orlando, Fla., passed pole-sitter and teammate Matthew Brabham at Turn One in the opening lap. Brabham remained assertive following a full-course caution, but was not able to reclaim his leading spot.
“It was another really close race between Matt [Brabham] and I on the first lap of the race,” Pigot said. “I was able to get by him at the start, which was really important because it is so difficult to pass here. We had a brief battle at the restart but I was able to hold him off and it was pretty smooth sailing from then on.”
Pigot kept toward the right-hand side of the race track when the green flags waved for a final five-lap dash to the checkers, but Brabham was determined to take the inside line for the ensuing right-handed Turn One. Brabham did indeed make the move and briefly held the advantage, only to slide wide at the apex of the corner, allowing Pigot to get back ahead.
Brabham consequently fell back from his sparring partner after losing part of his front wing and had to spend the remainder of the race fending off a determined challenge from third-place finisher Matthew Di Leo.
“It was a little disappointing at times for myself throughout the weekend,” Brabham said. “I definitely wanted to be on that top step. That’s the place where everyone wants to be and, unfortunately, I wasn’t there. Looking at it as a general weekend in the championship race, I am ecstatic about how it went and very pleased with how it turned out in the end. It could have been a lot worse in that last race without part of my front wing, and I am really happy that I managed to keep up in the championship and left with some really good points out of this weekend.”
Trent Hindman, 16, from Wayside, N.J., finished fourth in a third Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Van Diemen-Mazda, narrowly ahead of Belardi Auto Racing pair Roman Lagudi, 17, from Las Vegas, Nev., and last year’s National Class champion Luca Forgeois, of New York, N.Y.
National Class honors once again were claimed by RC Enerson. The 15-year-old from nearby New Port Richey, Fla., driving for ZSports Midwest with Team E Racing, rebounded well after losing several positions at the start.
Contingency awards included the Tilton Hard Charger Award, for the driver who gained the most positions during the race, which was claimed by Dalton Kellett (#5 K-Line Insulators USA Inc./Pabst Racing Services), who charged from 33rd on the grid to 14th. The PFC Awards for the winning car owners were issued to Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing in the Championship Class and ZSports Midwest in the National class.
Pigot leaves St. Petersburg with a two-point advantage over Brabham in the Championship Class. Two points also separate the National Class chase with Enerson ahead of Rettich.