Spencer Pigot’s first Indy Lights weekend sweep the next step in his career

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It was the next logical step for Spencer Pigot.

After posting two weekend sweeps in each of the prior two ladders on the Mazda Road to Indy rung, Pigot delivered his first in Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires this weekend at Barber Motorsports Park.

He had two apiece in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda (St. Petersburg and VIR, 2012) and Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires (St. Petersburg and Barber, 2014) respectively.

Both his Saturday and Sunday wins were crushing flag-to-flag romps from pole position, aboard the No. 12 Mazdaspeed-backed Dallara-IL15 Mazda for Juncos Racing.

His Sunday win was the middle chapter of Rising Star Racing’s three-race Sunday sweep, with Neil Alberico (Pro Mazda) and Josef Newgarden (IndyCar) winning races either side of him.

And for Pigot, the wins meant so much after two third-place finishes at St. Petersburg and a hard-luck second at Long Beach to open his Indy Lights account.

“It’s very special,” Pigot told MotorSportsTalk post-race on Sunday. “It was the first one in Indy Lights, for me, the team, we worked really hard.

“We knew it was coming with the speed we had in Long Beach. To come here and not just win, but put a huge gap on the guys behind us, is huge for us and our confidence. It’s very important.”

Pigot has rarely had the consistency to match his pace throughout his four previous years, but with the perfect five-for-five podium start to open 2015 he’s in a very good position for the rest of the year.

Pigot knew he and his Juncos Racing team – having had a year to work together in Pro Mazda last year – have a baseline and have sought to improve it even more at every race thus far this year.

“In Indy Lights, the teams are so good to adapt very quickly,” Pigot explained. “We saw that at St. Petersburg with the Carlin guys, and us, Carlin and a few other guys in Long Beach. I’m not sure track experience is that big a difference where everyone is so good.”

He’ll head to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis weekend looking to rebound after finishing eighth in both races last year, despite qualifying on pole for both.

“I enjoyed the track I guess,” Pigot said. “We had a lot of pace and qualified on pole both races.

“But the first lap is always hectic there with the big long straights and the heavy brake zones.

“As long as we can keep the same pace and stay out of trouble we’ll be OK. But that’s the trick. We just need to get through the first few corners.”

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”