- The finishing positions for Ed Carpenter Racing’s pair of 24-year-olds were not indicative of the pace the two had today in the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Jordan King raced to the front of the field and led his first Indy car race, but a punctured tire caused him to brush the wall and bend a piece of suspension. Spencer Pigot, true to the form he became known for during the 2017 season, executed over 20 on-track passes for position and was as high as second before falling a lap down after a fueling issue. Pigot finished 15th, while King was 21st.
- After setting a new track record yesterday in qualifying, King started from the 4th position. Pigot, who’s qualifying run was interrupted by a red flag, started in 16th. King was not looking to merely settle in in his Verizon IndyCar Series debut and by Lap 2, the rookie was in 2nd place. The race slowed by the first full course caution on Lap 3 for two laps. Pigot had already gained two positions and was running 4th; King had also gained two positions.
- On the Lap 5 restart, King executed a textbook pass around pole sitter Robert Wickens, taking the lead of his first Verizon IndyCar Series race. On the next lap, Graham Rahal dove to the inside of Pigot going into Turn 1 and the two made contact. Pigot was spun and stalled, bringing out the second full course caution. Once re-fired, he brought the No. 21 Autogeek Chevrolet in for his first pit stop. After a quick inspection by the crew, it was determined there was no damage to the car and he re-entered the race on a set of sticker black tires.
- King led the field to the green flag on the Lap 10 restart. Wickens was able to regain the lead when King went slightly wide, dropping King to second. Pigot took the restart from the 22nd position after his unscheduled pit stop, but immediately began executing passes and making his way up through the field. Meanwhile, Alexander Rossi was able to work his way around King. King maintained the third position, building a 3.8-second gap over fourth place.
- When King came in for his first pit stop on Lap 24, he was running 2nd while teammate Pigot was all the way back up to 5th. As King and the other leaders stopped, Pigot inherited the second position behind eventual race winner Sebastien Bourdais. Another full course caution came on on Lap 28, lasting for four laps while the stopped car of Matheus Leist was removed from the track. Pigot stayed on the same strategy of Bourdais and did not pit.
- Coming to the ensuing restart, King was running 8th but appeared to have a puncture. Before the team was able to determine if it was a leak or if a tire pressure sensor had failed, the restart occurred on Lap 33 and King’s tire immediately went down. The car got away from King and he brushed the wall with the outside rear, bending a piece of the suspension. The No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka crew immediately completed the necessary repairs and King rejoined the race, albeit three laps behind the leaders.
- While King’s suspension was being repaired, Pigot had to make an early stop as he had no grip left on his set of red tires. Pigot was 17th at the time of the Lap 38 restart; by the time he crossed the start/finish line on Lap 39, he was 10th. The phrase “cautions breed cautions” proved accurate as another yellow flag flew on Lap 40. By then, Pigot was 9th. Several cars stopped when the pits opened and Pigot moved up to 6th.
- On Lap 58, Pigot made his third pit stop from the 5th position. However, fuel did not flow and another stop became mandatory. He had to stop again 11 laps later, dropping him back to 19th. On the same lap, King made his third stop of the race. King was on his own lap and remained in the 22nd position.
- Both drivers had to make one final stop to get to the end of the race. Pigot stayed out as long as possible, hoping for a yellow to pack up the field. He made his final stop on Lap 95 and fell one lap behind the field; the needed caution flew on Lap 102. King made it into the pits for his final stop just before the caution flew and was able to complete service. As the two were lapped cars, series officials re-positioned them at the rear of the field for the conclusion of the race. Pigot picked up three positions in the final two green flag laps as other drivers made mistakes and finished in the 15th position. King would take the checkered flag in his debut race in the 21st position.
- Ed Carpenter Racing will take on a substantial amount of testing before the second round of the Verizon IndyCar Series season. The oval at ISM Raceway (formerly Phoenix International Raceway) is the next stop, where team owner Ed Carpenter will step back into the No. 20 alongside Pigot in the No. 21. The Phoenix Grand Prix will take place on April 7, 2018.
JORDAN KING, No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet: “On the positive, I led my first Indy car race. It is nice to be able to say that! I am reserved, so I didn’t actually do it, but I did have a little bit of a mental fist pump in my mind when we took the lead. The speed was really good during the race, we genuinely had the pace to challenge for the race win. After the first stop, we picked up a puncture and slid against the wall and had some damage. It was frustrating more than anything to be hindered by that. Overall, I am happy from the sense that the speed is there, but disappointed to throw away a result. I know not every weekend is going to be like this, but it was great to be fast and challenging for the race win. It just hurts a bit when you throw away a good result like that!”
SPENCER PIGOT, No. 21 Autogeek Chevrolet: “It was a pretty wild race out there. It was very tricky at the beginning going into Turn 1, trying to pass people on the paint. Early on, we were hit from behind and stalled. From there, we just had to try and battle back. We had a really good restart in the middle of the race and passed a lot of cars, then, unfortunately, we had another issue in the pits and couldn’t get any fuel into the car. We had to make a few unscheduled pit stops to make up for that and went a lap down, putting an end to our competitiveness. We had good pace and a good chance of finishing up towards the front. It was great to have the support of Autogeek this weekend and I appreciate the all of the hard work put in by my guys!”
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!