- For the first time in his Verizon IndyCar Series career, Spencer Pigot found himself at the front of the field during today’s race. Pigot led his first laps today in the INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen, leading eight of the 60 laps. JR Hildebrand improved six spots over his starting position to finish 15th, while Pigot finished in 12th.
- Pigot started the race from 13th after missing advancing to the second round of qualifications yesterday by a mere .081 of a second. Hildebrand qualified 21st for his first Verizon IndyCar Series event at Watkins Glen International. Because of moisture and standing water on the 3.4-mile road course, the INDYCAR Grand Prix at the Glen was declared a wet start and all competitors were required to start on Firestone’s rain tires. However, since it had not rained within the hour, the entire field opted to pit for slick tires once they had taken the green flag on wets.
- Pigot came in with 19 of the 21 cars before the first lap had even been completed. He swapped from wet tires to red tires, while Hildebrand stayed out until the next lap and came in for scuffed reds. Just after Hildebrand left the pit lane, Pigot spun in Turn 9. The No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet did a complete 360 degree spin but missed the Armco barrier. Pigot continued, though he dropped to 17th. Hildebrand was running 20th after his stop.
- The first caution of the race came on Lap 6 when James Hinchcliffe stopped on course. Pigot and Hildebrand both ducked into the pits with two other competitors to top off their fuel and switch to sets of black tires. The race resumed on Lap 8 with Pigot in 18th and Hildebrand in 19th.
- On Lap 15, another caution flag Takuma Sato also stopped on course. All but five drivers made stops; since Pigot and Hildebrand had taken advantage of the previous caution, they did not pit. Pigot vaulted to the front of the field, taking the lead of a race for the first time in his Verizon IndyCar Series career. Hildebrand was just behind in third, positions they held at the restart on Lap 17. Over the ensuing laps, Pigot stretched his lead over second place Max Chilton to 2.75 seconds.
- Committed to a different strategy than the majority of the field, Hildebrand brought his No. 21 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet in for his third pit stop on Lap 22. Pigot followed in suit the following lap, relinquishing the lead after commanding the race for eight laps. The duo fell back to the tail end of the field with Pigot in 18th and Hildebrand in 19th.
- The pattern repeated for both as another caution came out on Lap 27 as smoke came from the back of Sato’s car. As the rest of the field stopped, Pigot and Hildebrand cycled back to the front. Pigot was second, just behind pole sitter and eventual race winner Alexander Rossi. Hildebrand was in 4th for the following restart on Lap 29, making his next pit stop on Lap 37 from the 6th spot. Pigot was in the pit lane on the next lap, giving up his second place position.
- Both were going to have to make one additional stop to make it to the end of the race and were told by their strategists to not concern themselves with saving fuel. The remainder of the field made their pit stops on Laps 44 and 45, but an incident leaving the pit lane between Josef Newgarden and Sebastien Bourdais brought out the final caution of the race on Lap 45. The field was jumbled, giving Pigot the 7th position and Hildebrand 10th. However, the yellow was not enough to help them make it to the end and they made their final stops on Lap 47. Once they rejoined the field, Pigot was scored in 14th and Hildebrand in 16th.
- Pigot picked up two positions in the final six laps of the race while Hildebrand gained one. Pigot finished the 60-lap race in 12th; Hildebrand finished 15th, six positions higher than where he started. Today’s race was the 100th Verizon IndyCar Series race for Ed Carpenter Racing, which made its debut at the 2012 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. ECR’s 100th event also coincided with Chevrolet’s 100th race since returning to Indy car competition.
- The next race for Ed Carpenter Racing will be the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma, which is also the final event of the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season. The championship-deciding race will be broadcast live from Sonoma Raceway at 6:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Network on Sunday, September 17, 2017.
SPENCER PIGOT (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet), Finished 12th: “It was an up and down race for us! We were near the back, other times we were near the front and at one point we were leading. It just flip-flopped throughout the race. I made a mistake at the beginning and spun, dropping us to the back. Then, on the pit stop sequence, we were able to leapfrog the field. It was nice to lead a few laps! I had to top off on fuel and get a new set of tires towards the end, which put us near the back for the final start. We got a few positions back, but overall I thought we would be able to finish a bit higher up. Thanks to the Fuzzy’s guys in the pit lane for doing a great job!”
JR HILDEBRAND (No. 21 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet) Finished 15th: “We had set the car up really banking on rain coming at some point and it just never did! We didn’t have the straight-line speed to hang with as many restarts as there were, so we almost needed some rain. Frankly, I’m actually happy we were able to hang as tough as we did on those restarts. If the weather conditions had been like what was forecasted, it would have been the right call. It’s nobody’s fault! We tried to make some strategy work and it just didn’t end up panning out. I’m proud of my Fuzzy’s Vodka guys for pushing through what’s been a tough weekend. We’ll look back on it and learn some things and now we look forward to the final race of the year in Sonoma.”
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!