JOSEF NEWGARDEN FINISHES CAREER-BEST FOURTH IN INDYCAR CHAMPIONSHIP
Gearbox Issue Ends Spencer Pigot’s Rookie Season Early
SONOMA, Calif. (September 18, 2016) – Race Notes
- Josef Newgarden will leave Sonoma Raceway with his highest finish ever in the Verizon IndyCar Series standings. Newgarden’s 6th place finish in the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma was enough to earn him 4th in the championship. Rookie Spencer Pigot saw his year come to a disappointing close after a gearbox issue ended his day early and gave him 22nd place finishing position.
- After qualifying 10th yesterday, Newgarden set the pace as the fastest driver in this morning’s warm-up session. Pigot rolled off from the 19th position today in his No. 20 Samsung Chevrolet when the 85-lap race started.
- The field streamed through the first few turns without incident and Newgarden gained three positions before the first lap was complete. Later in the lap, Pigot was able to avoid the spinning cars of Tony Kanaan and Mikael Aleshin in front of him in Turn 10 and picked up two positions.
- Both drivers began to struggle with tire wear within the first 10 laps of the race but fought through. As cars began to pit, Pigot moved up to 11th and Newgarden into 6th. They managed to stay out until Lap 15, within the window to keep it to a three-stop race. Newgarden cycled out in 9th while Pigot came out 20th.
- The second stint of the race remained quiet until pit stops. Pigot came in for his second stop on Lap 33. An extended stop had him come out one lap down, in between the leader and second place, but with new tires he was able to pull away.
- Championship contender Will Power slowed on course on Lap 36, causing Newgarden to duck into the pit lane for his second stop of the race before the track went yellow. He was 11th following the stop with five cars ahead of him on a different strategy.
- At the same time, Pigot’s gearbox abruptly let go in Turn 11 and stranded him on the hill leading up to Turn 2. When Power re-entered the race, Pigot dropped to 22nd. He was able to complete every race of his rookie season except for Sonoma.
- Newgarden’s final position in the standings would be decided by an on-track battle with Helio Castroneves. Castroneves was on a strategy that had him pitting four times versus Newgarden’s three. After Castroneves’s fourth stop, he came out of the pit lane 8th while Newgarden was running 6th in his No. 21 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet.
- When Castroneves passed Marco Andretti for 7th, he gained a two point advantage over Newgarden in the standings. The two battled until the checkered flag with Newgarden able to hold Castroneves off, despite the fast Castroneves was on new tires and did have to conserve fuel. It was Newgarden’s 11th Top 10 finish of 2016.
- Despite missing third in the standings by two points, Newgarden finished another stellar season with Ed Carpenter Racing. He started on the front row of three events, including qualifying second for the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 where he finished third. Midway through the season, the 25-year-old suffered a broken right clavicle and a small fracture in his right hand during the Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway. He missed no races, returning to the car two weeks later at Road America. One month after the accident, Newgarden dominated the Iowa Corn 300 at Iowa Speedway, leading 282 of 300 laps on his way to his third Indy car victory and first on an oval. He earned 11 Top 10 finishes, six Top 5s and four podiums in 16 races this season.
- Pigot, the 2015 Indy Lights champion, was announced as the road and street course driver for the No. 20 one week after running in his first Indianapolis 500. Sonoma was be only his 10th Indy car race and 7th with Ed Carpenter Racing. He earned two Top 10 finishes in his first five starts with ECR, including driving to a 7th place finish at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course after starting 19th. Pigot has been running at the finish of every race he has competed in this year.
- The Verizon IndyCar Series will now enter it’s offseason. The 2017 season will begin on St. Petersburg, Fla. on March 12.
JOSEF NEWGARDEN, NO. 21 FUZZY’S ULTRA PREMIUM VODKA CHEVROLET, FINISHED 6TH: “We needed on more car in front of us (to finish 3rd in the championship), but we were a little too far back – 6th just didn’t get it done! I did everything I could to keep Helio (Castroneves) behind me to see if it would shake out our way but it just didn’t. There’s nothing for us to hang our heads about, we had a phenomenal year in our own right. We have a great team, great sponsors, great crew, so we’re not going to go into the offseason hanging our heads about anything!”
SPENCER PIGOT, NO. 20 SAMSUNG CHEVROLET, FINISHED 22ND: “We struggled a little bit on red tires at the beginning, but once we got onto blacks the car was pretty good. We were catching up to the guys in front when we unfortunately had an issue with the driveshaft failing coming out of Turn 11. The guys did an awesome job not only this weekend but also all season. I can’t thank Ed Carpenter Racing, Samsung, Fuzzy’s Vodka and Rising Star Racing enough for the opportunity this year and now I’m looking forward to the offseason!”