- On his one-year anniversary of joining Ed Carpenter Racing, Spencer Pigot worked his way up to a Top 10 finish in Race 1 of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix. JR Hildebrand, in his first Belle Isle race since 2012, was on track for a Top 10 finish of his own before a late-race drive through penalty dropped him to 17th.
- Qualifying took place this morning and varied from the typical three knockout rounds seen at road and street courses. Instead, the field was split in half. Each group of drivers received 12 minutes of track time on the 2.34-mile, 13-turn street circuit with the fastest overall driver awarded the pole. After qualifications were over, both ECR drivers would start from Row 9 with Pigot in 17th and Hildebrand in 18th.
- An immediate caution came out in the first lap and as soon as the pits opened, Pigot brought his No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet in for his first stop. As he had already run the requisite two laps on the alternate red Firestone Firehawk tires, he was able to complete the race on black tires.
- Though Pigot and Hildebrand were both on a three-stop strategy, their pit windows opened on different laps and they would move in and out of the Top 10 at opposing times. Pigot ran as high as 8th; Hildebrand ran as high as 7th. Hildebrand made his first two stops on Lap 17 and 36 and Pigot made his second and third stops on Lap 24 and 48.
- Hildebrand made his final pit stop on Lap 52, staying on the primary black tires. As he left the pit lane, the No. 21 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet crossed over the blend line too early and Hildebrand was assessed a drive-through penalty for improper pit exit. Running 10th at the time of his last stop, he fell to 18th after serving the penalty. He was able to pass Will Power with seven laps to go, moving him up to 17th where he would finish the race.
- Near the end of the race, other cars were struggling to make it all 70 laps without pitting for one last splash of fuel. Max Chilton, running ahead of Pigot, was one of the cars that had to stop. Chilton’s pit stop moved Pigot to 10th, where Pigot would finish after holding Chilton off for the remainder of the event.
- Today’s race marked one year since Pigot joined Ed Carpenter Racing. His first race with the Speedway, Ind.-based team was Race 1 of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix in 2016. After contesting the 2016 Indianapolis 500 with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, Pigot joined ECR the following week as the road and street course driver for the No. 20 for the remainder of the season. It is a role he retained for the 2017 season, scoring three Top 10 finishes already this year.
- This weekend will mark Hildebrand’s will first doubleheader in Detroit. He previously raced on Belle Isle in 2012, albeit with a different track configuration. The 29-year-old was awarded the No. 21 seat for the entirety of the 2017 season, but had to sit out the third race of the year while recovering from a broken hand. He came back the next weekend to finish 3rd at Phoenix Raceway, the first podium celebration of his Indy car career.
- The second race of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix will take place tomorrow, Sunday, June 3. It will also feature 70 laps and be broadcast live on ABC at 3:30 p.m. ET.
SPENCER PIGOT (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet), Finished 10th: “It was a decent race. The guys did a really good job in the pits and also on the timing stand to bring us in at the right time. We were able to jump some people in pits but at the end of the day, we still have things to work on and improve on for tomorrow. We’ll try to get a little more pace out of the car. I’m happy with a Top 10 and happy for everyone at Fuzzy’s Vodka and Chevy, but we’re definitely going to work to be higher up tomorrow!”
JR HILDEBRAND (No. 21 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet), Finished 17th: “The strategy options today more or less became a wash, so we opted to stay out on the reds at the beginning. Once we got on the black tires and got into clean air, we had some genuine pace throughout the race which was definitely a positive for me and for the Fuzzy’s Vodka team. When it was all said and done, we were running in a position that would have had us in the Top 10 at the end of the race. On our final pit stop, I just crossed over the pit exit line too early and ended up with a drive through penalty that cost us 20 seconds. In that happening, a bunch of cars slotted in between where I was and where I ended up. It was super frustrating to have just a little thing like that ruin our day from a results perspective. I really do genuinely think there were some good takeaways for us. We found some speed, we’re trying some different things, I’m trying some different things that seem to be working better than the past couple of street course events. Hopefully we can make good on the pace that we had in this race and have ourselves a bit of a better outcome tomorrow.”