Pigot and Juncos are back together. Photo: Rising Star Racing

Juncos Racing confirms Pigot for Indy 500

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Spencer Pigot and Ricardo Juncos will reunite for Juncos Racing team’s maiden Verizon IndyCar Series race, the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil, as the first of two drivers expected to be announced on Tuesday.

In Pigot, Juncos has a 23-year-old driver who has won him back-to-back titles on the Mazda Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires in Pro Mazda and Indy Lights, for a quick reunion.

“I am personally very happy to be able to formally announce that Spencer (Pigot) will be driving for Juncos Racing in the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500,” Juncos said in a release. “As most people know, Spencer started with our team in 2003 driving Karts. We reunited in 2014 and won the Pro Mazda Series championship, then Spencer helped us win the Indy Lights team championship in 2015. This is, hopefully, the next step in our successful relationship together.”

“First I want to thank Ricardo (Juncos) for this opportunity. We have had a long, successful relationship from karts to the Mazda Road to Indy series and hopefully we can repeat that success at Indy this month,” Pigot added. “I also want to thank my sponsors, Oceanfront Recovery, Rising Star Racing and P1 Management for making this possible. The Indy 500 is the greatest race in the world and to be able to drive in it again is fantastic. Last year was my first Indy 500 and I learned a lot. I am confident that I will be able to apply what I learned and a better result this time around.”

Pigot and Juncos back again. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

Pigot is the full-season driver for Ed Carpenter Racing’s No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet on road and street course races in the Verizon IndyCar Series, but ECR team owner/driver Ed Carpenter held steadfast to its commitment of only running two cars, as first reported by NBC Sports.

“I’d love to see Spencer in the race,” Carpenter said at the time. “Obviously I would have liked to have found enough to have him in one of our cars, but I can’t do it without the right funding to not make it the right thing for the team’s sake, and his sake. I’m not gonna hold him back from any opportunity.”

This left Pigot needing a team to field him if he was to make his second start in the Indianapolis 500, and he will, outside of Carpenter. He ran with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing last year and will saddle up in the No. 11 Oceanfront Recovery Chevrolet for Juncos as another supporter has come through from Rising Star Racing, Pigot’s longtime supporters. The green, white and orange livery is rather similar to Tony Kanaan’s longtime 7-Eleven colors that adorned his entry with Andretti Autosport (then known as Andretti Green Racing), also No. 11, from 2003 to 2009.

Oceanfront Recovery is a modern drug addiction and alcoholism treatment center located in Laguna Beach, Calif., and it will support Rising Star Racing drivers Pigot and Neil Alberico (Carlin in Indy Lights) during the Month of May at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Alberico, who lives in San Clemente, is not based far from the company’s headquarters.

Ferrari teammates Vettel and Raikkonen fastest in rainy final practice at Australian GP

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen went one-two in the final practice session ahead of qualifying at the water-logged Australian Grand Prix on Saturday.

Vettel set a best-lap time of 1 minute, 26.067 seconds, more than 2.4 seconds faster than his teammate in second.

Both Ferrari drivers switched from their intermediate tires to the super-fast, ultra-soft tires for the final few laps of the session, testing conditions on the track after a day-long downpour left it slick and filled with small puddles.

Mercedes drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton did not opt to try out their soft tires, sticking to the intermediates for the entire session. They had the seventh- and eighth-fastest times, after topping the leaderboard in practice in dry conditions on Friday.

The heavy rains subsided by early afternoon, allowing the track to rapidly dry during the third practice session and making conditions safe for drivers to test their soft tires.

Still, only a few drivers completed a timed lap with the softer compounds, with Mercedes, Red Bull and most of the others staying with their intermediates.

Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson had the third-fastest time of the session on ultrasoft tires, followed by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen on intermediates.

Hamilton remains the favorite to capture his fifth straight pole position at the Australian Grand Prix in qualifying later Saturday. He had the fastest laps on ultrasoft tires in the two practice sessions on Friday, though Verstappen was right behind him.

Verstappen and Vettel both slid on the slick track early in the third practice session, but maintained control and completed their runs without incident.

Verstappen’s teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, had the sixth-fastest time of the session. The Australian’s chances of winning his fifth career Grand Prix on his home track in Melbourne took a hit late Friday when he was assessed a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.

The Australian driver was penalized for driving too fast under red-flag conditions during Friday’s second practice session because of debris on the track.