- Spencer Pigot turned in one of his strongest performances of the year tonight in the season’s final oval race. Despite never having raced at Gateway Motorsports Park, Pigot battled his way through the field to earn a 6th place finish in the Bommarito Automotive Group 500. At the conclusion of the 248-lap race, team owner and oval driver Ed Carpenter closed out his 2018 season with a 12th place result.
- With a rain-shortened day, qualifications for the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 were scrapped yesterday in favor of allowing drivers additional practice time when the track was dry. As such, the starting grid for tonight’s race was determined by entrant points. Carpenter would roll off 11th while Pigot was one row behind in 14th.
- Two turns into the race, a yellow flag flew. For the ensuing restart on Lap 7, Carpenter was 12th while Pigot was 14th. Carpenter fought with the balance of the car on cold tires, sliding back to 16th, while Pigot remained 14th. The Fuzzy’s Vodka drivers maintained those positions for over 100 laps of the race, up to the second round of pit stops.
- On Lap 109, the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka crew made the decision to go to a four-stop strategy. Carpenter came in early, a call that allowed him to re-enter the race with a gap on track that would allow him to gain positions and set fast laps. He quickly found himself in 11th and back on the lead lap. However, the strategy was one that would need the race to continue under green-flag conditions, which it did not. The caution flag flew on Lap 173 as a competitor lost power and required a tow-in. Carpenter became trapped one lap behind the field.
- Pigot’s No. 21 Fuzzy’s Vodka crew gained him a position during his second green flag pit stop, moving him up to 13th. Soon thereafter, Pigot passed James Hinchcliffe for the 12th position, then cycled forward as the next round of stops began. The same caution that hurt Carpenter helped Pigot, who was the beneficiary of a wave-around to re-join the lead lap. He was also able to make his third pit stop under the yellow flag and took the Lap 183 restart from the ninth position, back on the same lap as the leaders.
- Despite being one lap behind the field, Carpenter was resilient. He remained committed to his four-stop strategy, making his final pit stop on the 199th lap. The stop would drop him back to 16th, but he gained two positions as other cars on a similar strategy also had to stop. With only ten laps remaining, Carpenter passed Matheus Leist. The move would give him the 12th position, where he would finish the race.
- Making the most of being back on the lead lap, Pigot got to work. He passed Takuma Sato at the Lap 183 restart to move into 8th, then worked his way around Josef Newgarden just prior to the 200-lap mark. His next targets were Alexander Rossi and Ed Jones, both of whom he passed by Lap 222 to earn himself a position in the Top 5. He was forced to pit for a splash of fuel on Lap 237, just 11 laps from the conclusion of the race. However, all lead lap cars but one had to stop. Rossi was able to stretch his fuel until the end of the race, allowing him to finish in second. Pigot would bring home a 6th place finish, his second-best result of the year.
- As Carpenter drives exclusively at the oval events, the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 marked the finale of his 16th season of Verizon IndyCar Series competition. He was running at the checkered flag in five of the six oval races this year with a Top 10 finish in four. Carpenter raced his No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet to a 7th place finish at Phoenix Raceway and 10th at Iowa Speedway and Pocono Raceway. The 37-year-old’s highest finish of the year came at the prestigious 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500. After winning the pole position for the third time in his career, Carpenter followed that up by leading the most laps of all drivers (65) on his way to a second-place finish – the best of his 15 Indy 500 starts.
- Before earning ECR’s full-time No. 21 entry, Pigot spent two years as the road and street course driver of the team’s No. 20. As such, he competed in an Indy car race for the first time at five of the six ovals on this year’s schedule, including Gateway Motorsports Park. Pigot’s 6th place finish tonight is bettered only by his result earlier this summer at another short oval, Iowa Speedway. Similar to this evening’s event, Pigot had fallen one lap down to the leader in the early stages of the 300-lap event at Iowa. Also similar to this evening, he raced his No. 21 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet through the entire field, climbing up to a second-place finish. It was the 24-year-old’s first podium finish in the Verizon IndyCar Series.
- The Verizon IndyCar Series is currently in a string of three back-to-back races and will travel to Portland, Oregon next week for Indy car racing’s return to the Pacific Northwest. Carpenter will hand the No. 20 back over to Jordan King, road and street course driver. King will race alongside Pigot in the penultimate round of the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season, the Grand Prix of Portland. The road course race will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network at 2:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, September 2.
ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet), Finished 12th: “I was hoping for a little better night! I just didn’t have a very good balance on cold tires and I lost too many positions at the start of the race. After the first stop, we went long with everyone else. We didn’t really feel like we were going to get it done doing that, so we started short pitting and trying to get track position with quick lap times. I feel like we would have been inside the Top 10 if a.) I could have stayed in front of Will (Power) on the lead lap, or b.) that yellow didn’t come out. That’s just the way it goes when you go with that strategy when you pit early; that’s what you put yourself at risk for. I’d hoped to put the Fuzzy’s Vodka car on the podium again for my last race of the season but it didn’t work out that way! On the other hand. Spencer (Pigot) had a really good drive and continues to show well the second half of the season. Hopefully, my ‘children’ Spencer and Jordan (King) can do well at Portland and Sonoma and give ECR a good finish to the season.”
SPENCER PIGOT (No. 21 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet), Finished 6th: “We definitely got stronger throughout the race. The guys made some good changes for me during the stops and they were good pit stops as well. We were able to jump some people on the pit cycles which was great. The last 80 laps were a lot of fun. There were people on different strategies and we were just going flat out, going as quickly as possible and pass as many people as we could. It was a lot of fun with so many close battles and a lot of dicing. I am happy to have finished 6th from where we started. It’s a shame we didn’t get to qualify, it would have been nice to try and start a little higher up! Overall, I’m really happy with the result and for my Fuzzy’s Vodka guys!”
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!