Picking up positions at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course has not historically been an easy task. However, Ed Carpenter Racing’s drivers Spencer Pigot and Ed Jones did not let less than optimal starting positions hold them back from doing just that in today’s Honda Indy 200. Through smart strategy, strong pit stops and outright speed, Pigot would finish six spots higher than where he started and bring home a 7th place result. After a stellar start, Jones too moved forward, gaining five spots to finish 13th.
Pigot spent all four practice sessions in the Top 10, including today’s warm up where he was 4th quick. Jones gained nearly two miles an hour from Friday to Saturday, but he and Pigot faced the same struggle in yesterday’s qualifying. Neither had been able to get a run in on the red Firestone Firehawks prior to qualifications. It had an adverse effect for both drivers as Pigot qualified 13th and Jones in 18th.
While Pigot selected black Firehawks for the beginning of the 90-lap race, Jones chose the alternate red tires. Jones’s strategy meant he was able to have a strong start, picking up seven positions in only three laps. Pigot advanced two positions, but was passed by Jones on Lap 3 and settled into 12th.
The teammates were committed to a three-stop strategy from the start, though their opening tire selections would have each play out differently. Jones had to come in on Lap 12 for a switch from reds to blacks while Pigot was able to continue. Pigot powered forward as the other cars on reds made their first stops. He stretched his opening stint to Lap 27, just a handful of laps after he passed Alexander Rossi for the 4th position.
Pigot’s next stint would see him on a set of sticker red Firehawks. Excellent work by the No. 21 Autogeek Chevrolet crew, as well as strong in and out laps, would vault Pigot past Will Power and eventual race winner Scott Dixon. As the first set of drivers made their second stops, Pigot again cycled forward. On Lap 38, Jones made his second stop for scuffed blacks. He stopped from the 14th position and remained there once he re-entered the race.
On Lap 45, Pigot became the leader of the Honda Indy 200. He stopped before the lap was completed, again having a set of sticker red tires at his disposal. Though he worked his way back up to 4th before his last stop, he wanted to stay on the same strategy as the other cars he was fighting for position. The No. 21 crew responded quickly when they saw other leaders pitting on Lap 63. Pigot dove in for scuffed blacks on short notice, ultimately landing 8th as everyone made their final stops.
Jones was in one lap after Pigot, Lap 64, having saved a set of sticker blacks for his last stint. He came out of the pit lane behind a lapped car but quickly passed him. However, from that point forward, the No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Scuderia Corsa Chevrolet was alone on the track. With no cars around him, he was not able to pick up any positions. He would finish 13th, up five positions from where he started.
Despite having less push-to-pass remaining than Colton Herta behind him, Pigot held off multiple charges while still closing in on Simon Pagenaud ahead. The three would remain nose-to-tail for over 20 laps. On the final lap, Josef Newgarden went off course at the exit of Turn 2. Pigot would pick up that position and finish 7th, matching his best finish at Mid-Ohio from his rookie year of 2016.
Only four races remain in the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series championship. The 2.5-mile triangular oval of Pocono Raceway is up next in August 18. Team owner Ed Carpenter will be back in the No. 20 Autogeek Chevrolet and race alongside Pigot. Jones’s next event will be the Grand Prix of Portland on September 1.
ED JONES, No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Scuderia Corsa Chevrolet, Finished 13th: “On the start, I tried to optimize as much as I could to make up as many positions as possible. I think we did a good job with that! We executed everything well, there were no mistakes on track, I never got passed on track and the guys did a good job in the pits. Ultimately, we just weren’t quite quick enough today. We’ll make some improvements to get better pace for Portland, then we’ll be up there!”
SPENCER PIGOT, No. 21 Autogeek Chevrolet, Finished 7th: “Coming home seventh is not a bad result! It was an interesting race, but it was also tough. I would have liked to have started higher up this afternoon, but to pass the cars we did and have that pace, it was really encouraging. The car was great and everyone at Ed Carpenter Racing did a great job with both the strategy and the pit stops! A lot of positives to take away from this one. It was a lot of fun, pretty much 90 laps all out. We were trying to leap frog people in the pits and pass them in the pits. It was entertaining for me, I hope it was for the fans as well!”
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!