- Though they had the pace, neither Spencer Pigot nor Jordan King had the results they hoped for after today’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Pigot battled a gearbox issue, limiting him to a 15th place finish. King raced his way to fourth, but struggled with malfunctioning brakes and an unscheduled pit stop dropped him one lap behind the leaders and he finished 18th.
- For the second race in a row, King advanced through the first round of qualifications. He started 12th in today’s race, just his second Indy car race and first ever event in the Streets of Long Beach. Meanwhile, Pigot, who struggled with grip during qualifying, started 18th in his second Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
- The caution flag immediately flew at the start as Simon Pagenaud was bumped off course in Turn 1. King and Pigot picked up the position as the passed the stopped car of Pagenaud. A few cars made stops, and by the Lap 4 restart, King had moved into the Top 10, running 9th and Pigot was 14th.
- Both King and Pigot concentrated heavily on saving fuel throughout their first stints. Committed to a two-stop strategy, they gained positions as those on a three-stop strategy began to pit. Though saving fuel, when Pigot was given the green light to use extra fuel to make passes for position, he was able to complete them. As their first pit stops drew near, Pigot had gained eight positions to run 10th while King was also up eight spots to 4th.
- Just prior to his first stop, Pigot radioed in that he was having issues with his gearbox, ranging from being unable to downshift to the car skipping gears. He fell from 10th to 15th in one lap. He made his first pit stop on Lap 29 for sticker red Firestone Firehawks, but the No. 21 Preferred Freezer Services Chevrolet crew determined there was nothing they could do to rectify the problem. By the next caution on Lap 42, the problem had resolved itself and Pigot was able to continue without further issue. Unfortunately, he had already fallen one lap behind the leaders.
- King made his first pit stop on Lap 28, pitting for another set of sticker black tires. Running 4th at the time of his top, he cycled back into 9th behind the cars on the three-stop strategy. Still focusing on fuel conservation, he was forced to let Takuma Sato pass him, but settled back in. Again, he moved into the Top 5 as other strategies played out. He did not pit during the caution between Laps 42-45. Josef Newgarden, who was out on new tires, was able to pass King on Lap 49. King remained just outside the Top 5 for the remainder of his stint, biding his time until he was allowed to run full-rich and begin passing cars.
- The full course caution flag flew again on Lap 42 as the car of Zachary Claman De Melo made contact with the wall in Turn 10. Under the caution, King reported to the pit lane that when he pressed the brake pedal, it went to the floor. He had to pit from 6th to allow the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka crew to bleed the brakes. Though they worked as quickly as possible, King too lost a lap to the leaders. For the restart on Lap 66, Pigot was 16th while King had fallen to 17th.
- King’s race would not come to a smooth conclusion. Coming to Lap 72, King had a run on lead-lap car Sebastien Bourdais. King went to the inside of Bourdais and made contact, resulting in a three-car pile up as Bourdais came to a stop facing the wrong direction. At the restart, King had to serve a drive-through penalty for avoidable contact, dropping him to 19th. A late race issue for Ryan Hunter-Reay bumped both up a position, giving Pigot the 15th finishing position and King 18th place.
- Next up for the Verizon IndyCar Series is the 2.38-mile permanent road course of Barber Motorsports Park, the third race in a string of three back-to-back events. King will race at Barber for the first time, while Pigot will return to the site where he swept the two Indy Lights races in 2015. The 2018 Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network on Sunday, April 22 at 3 p.m. ET.
JORDAN KING, No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet, Finished 18th: “I’m obviously really gutted. You can see where we were racing, we were definitely on for a podium. We can’t control a mechanical failure like we had, so it was out of our hands I suppose. It is just annoying that we could have been on the podium and got nothing from today.”
SPENCER PIGOT, No. 21 Preferred Freezer Services Chevrolet, Finished 15th: “That was a disappointing race. Pretty much from the first stint, we were having gearbox issues. It got a lot worse at certain points of the race which ruined our day. We never really got a shot to fight for any positions or move up through the field. The Preferred Freezer Services guys worked hard this weekend and we made some good improvements over the three days, but we came away with not much to show for it. Disappointing, but hopefully we can turn it around at Barber.”
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!