ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (March 9, 2019) – Qualifying Notes
- The starting lineup for the first NTT IndyCar Series race of 2019 has been set and the two Autogeek Chevrolets from Ed Carpenter Racing will roll off side-by-side. In his first qualifying session as part of ECR, Ed Jones was not able to get a flying lap in as red flags made his track time all but nonexistent. Though conditions were similar to yesterday’s second practice where Spencer Pigot was very comfortable with his car, he fought the balance during his run today. Pigot’s best lap in qualifying was his fastest of the weekend, but he will start 16th tomorrow while Jones will be alongside in 15th.
- Three practice sessions preceded today’s qualifying. Heading in to qualifications, Pigot had turned the 4th fastest lap of the weekend while Jones was 9th overall. Pigot’s best lap came in yesterday afternoon’s practice session, where his speed of 106.262 miles per hour was the the second-fastest lap of the day. Jones had his best lap this morning during Practice 3 at 106.058 miles per hour.
- Following this morning’s practice, the field was split into two qualifying groups with even-numbered finishing positions assigned to Group 1 and odd-numbers to Group 2. Jones was first up in Round 1, starting the 10-minute session on a set of sticker black Firestone Firehawks. Just over two minutes in, the red flag came out for car stalled at the entrance to the pit lane. Jones came in for a set of sticker reds, but a second red flag flew almost immediately for another car into the tire barrier. His only recorded lap at speed was his out lap on the black tires, leaving him 8th on the charts.
- Pigot was out next in Group 2. He turned three laps at speed on the black Firehawks before joining the rest of his group in a switch to sticker reds. His fastest lap on the reds was 106.318 miles per hour, his best of the weekend, but would also give him the 8th position in his group. As only the top six cars advance to the next round, neither Pigot or Jones would have a chance to improve their starting positions.
- Jones, an Emirati born of British descent, will be racing the No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Scuderia Corsa Chevrolet in the 12 road and street course events this year and the No. 64 in the Indianapolis 500. Jones made his NTT IndyCar Series debut on the streets of St. Petersburg in 2017 after winning the 2016 Indy Lights championship. A third place finish in his debut Indianapolis 500, coupled with his year-long performance, earned him 2017 Rookie of the Year honors. He followed those results up last year with podium finishes at Detroit and Long Beach in his sophomore season.
- Pigot, from nearby Orlando, Fla., also made his debut at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. However, Pigot’s was one year earlier in 2016, following his 2015 Indy Lights championship. Pigot is ECR’s longest-tenured driver aside from team owner Ed Carpenter, driver of the No. 20 during the oval events. Pigot spent two seasons as road and street course driver of the No. 20 before being elevated to the team’s full-time No. 21 entry in 2018, a role which he has retained 2019. Tomorrow’s event will be his 40th NTT IndyCar Series race and 36th with ECR.
- Florida-based Autogeek.com has once again expanded their relationship with ECR. After serving as the primary partner on Pigot’s car at the season-opening racing in 2018, both the Nos. 20 and 21 will carry the colors of the car care superstore in this year’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Over the last 15 years, Autogeek has risen to become one of the most reputable and trusted sources for automotive detailing products and accessories. Through detailing how-to guides and instructional videos, Autogeek provides a wealth of car care know-how for detailers, hobbyists and car care enthusiasts.
- Pigot and Jones will have one more opportunity to perfect their Autogeek Chevrolets in tomorrow morning‘s warm up session, scheduled to begin at 9:20 a.m. ET. Live television coverage of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will begin at 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network. The green flag will wave on the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series season with the 110-lap race beginning at 1:37 p.m. ET.
ED JONES, No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Scuderia Corsa Chevrolet: “Qualifying was super frustrating. We weren’t the only ones caught out by the red flags, but what hurts the most is that the team did a fantastic job over last night to improve the car. We were 6th this morning and the car felt great. Unfortunately, no one did a push lap, it was only out lap times. It’s disappointing, but as Sebastien (Bourdais) has shown us the last two years, you can start at the back and still win the race!”
SPENCER PIGOT, No. 21 Autogeek Chevrolet: “We just kind of missed the balance there on the red tires today. Unfortunately, the car wasn’t behaving like it did yesterday in second practice. We’ll go back to see where we can improve and get the car back to how it was. Hopefully, we’ll have a good race tomorrow for Autogeek and have a strong start of the season for Ed Carpenter Racing.”