(NEWTON, Iowa) July 8, 2018 – Race Notes
- In his first Verizon IndyCar Series race at Iowa Speedway, Spencer Pigot earned his first career podium finish. Pigot started 18th and raced all the way up to the 2nd position, also an Indy car career-best finish. Team owner Ed Carpenter, who has competed in the four oval events this season, earned his third Top 10 of the year in today’s Iowa Corn 300.
- During yesterday afternoon’s qualification session, Carpenter secured the 9th starting position. It was the fifth time in the last six years that he has qualified inside the top ten. Pigot, who had competed at Iowa Speedway in Indy Lights but not yet in an Indy car, struggled with a lack grip throughout his qualifying run and started 18th.
- Pigot’s charge to the front began immediately when he gained three positions during the first of today’s 300 laps. Meanwhile, Carpenter fell back to 15th in the opening laps but quickly settled in. With the field turning laps around 18 seconds, race leader Josef Newgarden caught up to Carpenter on Lap 30 and put him one lap down to the field. Carpenter gained one position back and was 14th at the time of his first pit stop on Lap 69. His Fuzzy’s Vodka crew went to work, gaining the No. 20 three positions.
- Pigot continued to move forward, methodically picking off his competitors and working his way up to 11th. However, he was unable to keep the leader behind him and fell one lap down on Lap 49. With a car as quick as Newgarden’s, Pigot slotted in behind and stayed with Newgarden as he continued to work through traffic. Pigot worked his way up to 7th before making his first pit stop on Lap 73. After all cars had cycled through, not only had Pigot’s Fuzzy’s Vodka crew gained him two positions, he also found himself back on the lead lap.
- By the 100th lap of the race, Carpenter had raced his way back into the Top 10. One lap later, Pigot passed Ryan Hunter-Reay for the 4th position. Pigot did not stop there, overtaking Simon Pagenaud on 113th lap to move into 3rd. The pair of Fuzzy’s Vodka drivers maintained their positions until the first yellow flag of the race flew on Lap 139 after Zach Veach brushed the wall. At the time of the caution, only four cars remained on the lead lap.
- Both Carpenter and Pigot used the caution as a welcome opportunity to make their second pit stops. Pigot, still on the lead lap, was able to stop when the pits opened on Lap 142. Just like his first stop, he wanted no changes to the No. 21 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet. Carpenter became the beneficiary of a wave around and found himself back on the lead lap as well. He was able pit from the 9th position on Lap 146, also taking only fuel and tires.
- The race went back green on Lap 149, presenting Pigot with the opportunity to pass James Hinchcliffe for the second position. Hinchcliffe took the spot back four laps later and the two chased Newgarden through lapped traffic. That traffic worked against Pigot on Lap 171 as Takuma Sato was able to get by, dropping Pigot to 4th. Carpenter maintained his 9th position, deftly working his way through traffic and also holding off any challengers for position.
- Another set of green flag stops followed. Pigot was the first of the two ECR Chevrolets to pit, coming in on Lap 222. Again his Fuzzy’s Vodka crew delivered, helping him pick up two more positions and vault from 4th to 2nd. Carpenter made what was scheduled to be his final stop just two laps later. With new tires, Carpenter set his fastest lap of the race on Lap 228.
- On Lap 250, Hinchcliffe again passed Pigot, dropping him to 3rd. Six laps later, the eventual race winner Hinchcliffe took the lead of the race from Newgarden. While Pigot tried to catch up to Newgarden, then running second, he again caught lapped traffic. This time, Robert Wickens was able to slip by on Lap 279 and Pigot fell to 4th.
- With six laps to go, the back end of Carpenter’s No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet began to step out on him. While correcting the car, Carpenter was hit by Sato, which actually straightened the car back out and Carpenter was able to continue. However, a piece of Carpenter’s front wing had broken off and landed in the racing line, necessitating a yellow. Under caution, Carpenter ducked into the pit lane on Lap 295 for a new front wing. Carpenter only lost one position with the pit stop and re-entered the field in the 10th position. Carpenter would take the checkered flag in that position, his third Top 10 finish in his four oval races this season.
- The drivers running second (Newgarden) and third (Wickens) also stopped on Lap 297, gambling that the race would conclude under to green-flag conditions. As luck would have it for the No. 21 team, it did not. Pigot moved into the second position and as yellow and checkered flew, he earned his first career Verizon IndyCar Series podium.
- Pigot has successfully continued Ed Carpenter Racing’s streak of podium finishes at Iowa Speedway. ECR drivers have stood on the first or second step of the podium after the Iowa Corn 300 each of the past four years. Additionally, ECR has had at least one driver inside the Top 5 for five consecutive years. With Carpenter’s 10th place, now nine of ECR’s 11 starts at Iowa Speedway have concluded in a Top 10 finish.
- Next week, Ed Carpenter Racing will head north to Toronto for the only international stop on the Verizon IndyCar Series schedule. The Honda Indy Toronto is the 12th of 17 races during the 2018 season and will be the final street circuit race of the year. Carpenter will hand the No. 20 back over to road and street course driver Jordan King, who will be competing in his first race in Canada. Pigot’s No. 21 will revert back to the blue and white Preferred Freezer Services livery last seen at the Indianapolis 500. The Honda Indy Toronto will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network beginning at 3 p.m. ET on Sunday, July 15.
ED CARPENTER, No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet, Finished 10th: “We didn’t get off the way we wanted to. We had a ton of understeer and started losing spots, but we were able to make adjustments and started getting spots back. We started off stints a little slowly, but the car got better as the stint went along and we could make up a lot of ground. That first stint really hurt us as we went from ninth back to 15th. We had to spend too much of the race digging out of that hole from the first stint. There were moments when I thought we had one of the better cars.
I’m really happy for Spencer to get a break-out run and get his first podium in an Indy car, it’s really good whole team. We all work really tight together as a unit. It is, however, getting a little annoying that my teammates keep getting the better of me here. (Laughs) The 21 team made a couple of decisions at the beginning of the race different than we did. I think that helped Spencer early, we were probably a little better late, but we had already lost too much ground by then. But like I said, good job to them. Both ECR cars in the Top 10 is a good thing on a day like today when you see a lot of teams struggling.”
SPENCER PIGOT, No. 21 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet, Finished 2nd: “What a race! Right from the get-go, I thought we had a good car based on how we were getting through traffic. As the stint went on, we just got stronger and stronger. To find our way up near the front was a little unexpected at first, but I’m really proud of everyone at Ed Carpenter Racing and Chevrolet. The Fuzzy’s Vodka car was great! We didn’t have a good day yesterday, but everyone kept their heads down and kept pushing and now we’re on the podium!”