Spencer Pigot. Photo: Photos @ Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

Pigot scores pivotal Indy Lights win, takes points lead

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MONTEREY, Calif. – Spencer Pigot did exactly what he needed to do in his quest for a second consecutive championship on the Mazda Road to Indy ladder, with a win in the first of two Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires races at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca this weekend.

The driver of the No. 12 Juncos Racing Dallara IL-15 Mazda took the lead on Lap 3, after polesitter Max Chilton clipped the tire barrier at corner apex at the Corkscrew.

Pigot then proceeded to lead the remainder of the 30-lap race, with local driver Kyle Kaiser posting a season-best second place to complete a Juncos 1-2.

Pigot was methodical on the day after taking the lead, and introspective heading into tomorrow’s finale.

“Luckily I knew what it felt like to hit those tires because I’ve hit them a few times! Max just turned in early. It’s easy to do there. You’re always trying to get as much apex of curb,” Pigot said. “I got around the outside in Turn 9. Had to keep my head down. Kyle was very quick and put a lot of pressure on me.

“It’s nice to not see any rear wings in front of you. There’s another one tomorrow. These races can go any way. Huge thanks to Juncos Racing. We have cars that can win the race. 1-2 for the team. Mazda, Cooper Tires. It’s a big day but hopefully tomorrow is even bigger.”

Other two title contenders Ed Jones finished third with Jack Harvey fifth, while Sean Rayhall split them in fourth and set the fastest race lap (1:16.715).

Pigot has 326 points (win plus one bonus point for leading the most laps), with prior points leader Harvey now second on 318 and Jones third on 305. RC Enerson, who was mathematically eligible, finished sixth and has been eliminated from title contention.

March 29 in Motorsports History: Scott Dixon wins first race after reunification

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Reunited and it felt so good.

That’s what drivers likely thought before the 2008 IndyCar opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

For the first time since 1995, major-league open-wheel racing in the United States was under the banner of a sole sanctioning body as Champ Car and the Indy Racing Leauge had reunified just a month prior.

Scott Dixon celebrates after winning the 2008 IndyCar opener at Homestead. Photo: Jim Hines/IndyCar.

The first race after reunification also saw a reversal of fortunes for Scott Dixon, who won the race after losing the 2007 IRL championship in crushing fashion.

In the 2007 season finale at Chicagoland Speedway, Dixon ran out of fuel while leading on the final lap of the race. The race victory – and championship – went to Dixon’s future teammate, Dario Franchitti.

But the tides turned for Dixon nearly seven months later, and the Kiwi was able to win with the help of another driver’s misfortune.

Tony Kanaan was leading with seven laps remaining when E.J. Viso spun and made contact with Kanaan’s car. Kanaan remained on track through the caution period despite suffering obvious damage to his right front suspension.

On the final restart with three laps remaining, Dixon and others cars easily passed Kanaan’s wounded car on the outside. Dixon then maintained his lead through the checkered flag to win at Homestead for the second time in his career.

“I think Marco (Andretti) and T.K. probably had a little bit better cars today, but we came through with the win, and that’s what counts,” Dixon told ESPN after his 12th career victory.

Following his victory at Homestead, Dixon continued to redeem himself through the course of the 2008 season. In May, he won the Indianapolis 500 for the first (and so far only) time. Following Indy, he went on to win four more times in 2008 and won his second series championship.

Also on this date:

1998: Mika Hakkinen won the Grand Prix of Brazil, the first of eight victories in his first championship season.

2010: Will Power won the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, which was held on a Monday morning because of rain postponing the race on Sunday.

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