LEEDS, Ala. (April 23, 2017) – Race Notes
- Zach Veach completed his very first Verizon IndyCar Series race today at Barber Motorsports Park, bringing the No. 21 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet home in the 19th position. Teammate Spencer Pigot was running consistently in the Top 10 before a spin relegated him to a 20th place finish.
- Both drivers elected to start the 90 lap race on a set of sticker red Firestone Firehawks. Pigot rolled off from the 17th position while Veach was one row behind in 19th. By the first full-course caution for debris on Lap 3, Pigot had gained three positions to run 14th. Veach came in for a splash of fuel when the pits opened, while Pigot remained on track.
- As different strategies began to fall into place, Pigot and Veach found themselves in the Top 10. Pigot made his first stop on Lap 22 from the 4th position. With a set of sticker black tires, he cycled back into the race in 13th.
- As a result of stopping on Lap 4, Veach was able to stay out longer than most of the field and was all the way up in 4th on Lap 25. He made his first full pit stop then, coming in to the pits for fuel and a set of black tires. After the stops, he cycled into the 18th position.
- The second stint of the race was clean for both Pigot and Veach. Pigot made his second pit stop at the halfway point. Running 5th, he stopped on Lap 45 for sticker black tires. Veach followed suit three laps later, also making a stop for sticker blacks.
- On Lap 58, Pigot began his charge forward. He first picked off current Verizon IndyCar Series point leader Sebastien Bourdais for the 9th position, then passed Tony Kanaan for 8th two laps later. With his sights set on getting to the car running 7th, he spun passing a lapped car on Lap 62. The No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet car came to a rest in Turn 6 with no damage and was able to continue in the race.
- At the same time, Veach had to pit for fuel. A full course caution came out as a result of Pigot’s spin, closing the pit lane. At the restart on Lap 68, Veach received a drive-through penalty for additional service in a closed pit lane. He dropped from 17th to 19th.
- Pigot fell two laps behind the leaders as a result of the spin, but made up one lap when he did not stop when the pit lane opened. Charlie Kimball also did not pit, giving him the lead of the race, while all cars behind Kimball and Pigot had made their stop. On much older tires, Pigot made his final stop of the race after the restart to get out of the pack of leaders.
- Veach finished his first Verizon IndyCar Series race cleanly in the 19th position. Pigot was just behind, bringing home a 20th place finish.
- Veach’s Verizon IndyCar Series debut came as a result of filing in for the full-time driver of the No. 21, JR Hildebrand. Hildebrand is recovering from a broken bone in his left hand, which occurred in a last-lap accident at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. The break in the 29-year-old’s hand required surgery, performed on Tuesday, April 11 at the Indiana Hand to Shoulder Center in Indianapolis. Hildebrand was on the No. 21’s timing stand all weekend, assisting and coaching Veach during his first Indy car event.
- Next week, team owner Ed Carpenter will step back into the No. 20 for his first race of the year at Phoenix International Raceway, while Hildebrand is aiming to be back in the No. 21. Hildebrand and Carpenter were the first- and second-quickest drivers over a two-day test session at PIR in early February.
- The team will now briefly return to their Speedway, Ind.-based shop to prepare the cars for next Saturday’s race at the one-mile oval outside of Phoenix, Ariz. Practice and qualifications for the Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix will take place on Friday, April 28. The 250 lap race will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network beginning at 9 p.m. ET. on Saturday, April 29.
SPENCER PIGOT (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet) Finished 20th: “We were making good progress, we were all the way up to 8th after starting 17th. The car was feeling really good and the Fuzzy’s Vodka guys did a great job in the pits. We were definitely going forward! I made a small mistake trying to pass a car that wasn’t even for position, I got on the power a little too hard out of Turn 5 and spun the car. It’s unfortunate to have our race change that way. It was looking really promising for another very solid Top 10 finish, at least. I feel sorry for the guys, they worked very hard this weekend. We are getting better all the time. This time was a mistake on my part that cost us. Next time I will do better.”
ZACH VEACH (No. 21 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet), Finished 19th: “Overall, I’m pretty happy with our first Verizon IndyCar Series weekend. For what it was coming in here on short notice and a limited amount of time to get familiar with the car, I’m really happy with the progress that we made. I couldn’t have done it without the help of JR Hildebrand and the entire crew at Ed Carpenter Racing. Everyone here was so open to helping get me up to speed. They helped me from Lap 1 all the way to the end of the race. This was the longest race I’ve ever done in my life and part of that was learning how to save fuel and doing my first real race pit stops. Overall, I’m pretty happy with how it went. Granted, I think we would have loved to have a little more speed, but with the amount of time I had in the car, to come home where we did I think says a lot!”