SPENCER PIGOT MATCHES CAREER-BEST STARTING POSITION AT WATKINS GLEN INTERNATIONAL
Pigot Misses Advancing By A Mere .081 Of A Second; JR Hildebrand To Start 21st in INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (September 2, 2017) – Qualifying Notes
For the third time this year, Spencer Pigot will start 13th in a Verizon IndyCar Series event. Each time, he’s narrowly missed advancing to the second round of qualifications and today it was a mere .081 seconds that separated him from Round 2 at Watkins Glen International. Teammate JR Hildebrand will start 21st in the penultimate race of the season, the INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen.
Pigot started the weekend off solidly, setting the quickest of his 53 practice laps in the first session. His lap of 144.700 miles per hour was 6th overall on Friday morning and he was the fastest Chevrolet-powered driver in that session. Hildebrand’s best practice lap came in yesterday’s afternoon practice with speed of 143.646 mph.
For qualifying, Pigot was out first in Round 1 as part of Group 1, while Hildebrand was assigned to Group 2. Pigot turned his fastest lap and best of the weekend coming to the checkered flag in his No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet at 145.308 mph. All that separated Pigot from the 6th position and a place in Round 2 was a mere .081 of a second. He will start 13th in tomorrow’s INDYCAR Grand Prix at the Glen.
Hildebrand took to the 3.4-mile road course as part of Group 2. His quickest lap in qualifying was over a mile an hour faster than his best lap in the opening practice session. A lap of 143.652 mph will give Hildebrand the 21st starting position in the No. 21 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet for the 60-lap race.
The INDYCAR Grand Prix at the Glen will be Ed Carpenter Racing’s 100th Verizon IndyCar Series race. ECR’s 100th event also coincides with Chevrolet’s 100th race since returning to Indy car competition. ECR has been powered by Chevrolet engines since the team’s debut race, the 2012 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. That race also marked Chevrolet’s return to Indy car after a seven-year hiatus. Chevrolet drivers have combined to win 66 of 99 races run since then, with ECR netting seven of those victories.
While the Verizon IndyCar Series did not have an event over the 4th of July weekend, Pigot competed in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen as part of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Pigot and his two co-drivers covered 200 laps of the 3.4-mile road course during the six-hour endurance race. The trio landed on the podium with a third place finish.
Watkins Glen International has hosted ten Indy car races: 1979-81, 2005-10 and last year after the track returned to the schedule. Hildebrand, whose Verizon IndyCar Series debut was in 2011, has not yet competed at Watkins Glen in an Indy car. However, Watkins Glen was one of four Indy Lights races Hildebrand won in 2009 on his way to the capturing the championship.
Pigot hopes the final two races of the year will bring results that match the speed he has shown in his sophomore season. Pigot has three Top 10 finishes and is credited with executing over 50 on-track passes for position, but has been caught out by a myriad of unfortunate circumstances throughout the year. While running 5th in St. Petersburg, a brake rotor ignited; a misfire of the engine following a pit stop in the INDYCAR Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway dropped him from 6th; and he had worked his way up to 8th at Road America when he had to make two lengthy pit stops for repairs to the front suspension. In Toronto, Pigot gained seven positions in the first 15 green flag laps but was relegated to the rear of the field following unscheduled pit stop after another competitor cut one of his tires.
Hildebrand will look to add another solid result to a pair of podium finishes this year. Just 20 days removed from breaking a bone in his left hand in a last-lap incident at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, Hildebrand turned 250 laps under the lights at Phoenix Raceway and raced his way to 3rd. He topped that performance midway through the season at Iowa Speedway when he led 40 laps and matched his career-best Indy car result with a 2nd place finish. Hildebrand also led this year’s Indianapolis 500 and the 500-mile race two weeks ago at Pocono Raceway.
The INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network on Sunday, September 3 at 1 p.m. ET.
SPENCER PIGOT (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet), Qualified 13th: “We definitely made a lot of progress in qualifying. We’ve kind of been hovering around an eighth of a second or a second off the pace so we closed the gap a lot! That was nice, but once again, we came up just a bit shy from advancing. Usually, if you’re within a tenth of Will (Power), you’re right up there at the front! A big thanks to all the guys, Fuzzy’s Vodka, and Chevrolet for letting me do this. It is another midfield starting spot, but we’ll see what we can do tomorrow!”
JR HILDEBRAND (No. 21 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet) Qualified 21st: “It’s been kind of a weird weekend. We’ve tried a lot of different things and just can’t get the speed out of the car we’re looking for. It’s frustrating because I really like Watkins Glen and the team finished on the podium here last year, so we were hoping for a bit more. We just can’t manage to get much better lap times out of it. It’s disappointing, but we’ll continue plugging away at it for the rest of the weekend. There should be some fuel saving going on tomorrow so hopefully that is something that works in our favor!”