- The second race of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix proved to be a tough one for Ed Carpenter Racing. Spencer Pigot, coming off a Top 10 finish in yesterday’s race, retired from today’s event early after his engine lost power. JR Hildebrand fell one lap down to the leaders following an unscheduled pit stop after contact with another car, but persevered to finish 18th.
- Mirroring yesterday, today’s qualifications consisted of splitting the field in half for two twelve-minute sessions. A red flag came out in the middle of Group 1, limiting the session to the guaranteed five minutes of green time. When the session resumed, Hildebrand headed out to turn one more lap on a new set of red Firestone Firehawks. Before he could reach the start/finish line, the checkered flag flew and he was unable to turn another lap. Despite being 3rd before the red flag, he dropped to 9th as nine other cars were able to set one more lap. He would start the race from the 18th position for the second day in a row. Pigot was able to run the full 12 minutes and finished Group 2 in 11th, giving him the 21st starting position for today.
- It was a clean start to the 70-lap race for Hildebrand and Pigot. Immediately after Hildebrand completed the requisite two race laps on the alternate red Firestone Firehawks, he made a stop for the primary black tires. Following the lead of yesterday’s race winner, many cars gambled on making it a two-stop race. With no cautions in the opening laps, cars abandoned that strategy and began to pit. Hildebrand had moved up to 6th by the time of his second pit stop.
- On Lap 6, Pigot came in for his first stop, also opting to switch from blacks. He stayed out for 21 laps, pitting again on Lap 27. He remained in 21st position following his second stop.
- Hildebrand was called for his second stop on Lap 23, but did not come into the pit lane until Lap 24. There was enough fuel in the No. 21 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka car to make it around the 2.34-mile, 13-turn street circuit, but Hildebrand lost three positions while coasting and fell from 6th to 9th.
- Pigot’s last pit stop occurred on Lap 50 when he came in for a set of sticker reds. After Hildebrand’s final stop on the following lap, the two ECR drivers found themselves next to each other and were battling for position.
- Their battle was cut short on Lap 65 of 70, when Pigot’s engine lost power crossing the start/finish line. A huge cloud of white smoke billowed out of the back of the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka machine and Pigot climbed out the car once it rolled to a stop. At the same time, the No. 5 of James Hinchcliffe stopped on track. The two separate incidents caused officials to red flag the race to clean up the course.
- The field was re-ordered during the red flag, moving lapped cars to the back of the field. Hildebrand, sitting in 17th, had two cars in front of him and two cars behind him for position. The race went back to green with two to go and contact with another car dropped Hildebrand back one position. He would finish 18th, the same position he started the race in.
- Yesterday 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. In Race 1 this year, Pigot started 18th and earned finished 10th. Hildebrand was on track for a Top 10 finish of his own before a late-race drive through penalty for improper pit exit dropped him to 17th.
- Next weekend, the Verizon IndyCar Series will head to Texas Motor Speedway. Team owner Ed Carpenter will step back into the No. 20 for his 16th race at the 1.5 mile oval. He will join Hildebrand in his first race at TMS since 2012, where he finished 5th. NBC Sport Network will broadcast the 248-lap race live, beginning at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday, June 10.
SPENCER PIGOT (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet), Finished 21st: “The car just lost power coming across the start/finish line. I don’t know exactly what happened and it didn’t cost us a great finish, but it is a shame. Our races this year have been really good, this is the first weekend where we have struggled. It’s something we’ll try to learn from and make sure it doesn’t happen again. The Fuzzy’s Vodka guys have already had a long few weeks, now they have another problem to fix. Hopefully the 20 car can rebound next weekend at Texas and myself at Road America.”
JR HILDEBRAND (No. 21 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet), Finished 18th: “It was unfortunate that we started where we did because I think we would have been up the field if we had had a fair shot at qualifying. Given where we were, we went off strategy early and were putting in good laps. We caught all the way back up to the cars that had not yet made a pit stop, so we closed the whole 25 or 30 second gap back up. At that point, I got a call to pit but stayed out thinking that we would be able to benefit from the cars around me pulling off and pitting. I ignored the fact that we were tight on fuel and that mistake, which was 100% mine, put us in a place where we had a super slow lap and ended up in a gaggle of cars we shouldn’t have been around. We came into contact with another car, had a flat tire, came in, had to make an extra pit stop, went a lap down. There are some positives to take away from this weekend, we had some pace in both of the races because we figured some things out both with my driving and with the car. In the end, I’m disappointed with myself for having a small screw up each day that cost us a bunch of positions in the race. As we look to Road America and Toronto as the next couple of street circuits, we’ll be looking to put it together in those events. I feel we did well here this weekend, but it doesn’t show up that way on the stat sheets.”
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!