Pigot’s Indy Lights crown fulfills Mazda Road to Indy in total

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

A six-pack of race wins and a four-pack of Mazda scholarships.

That’s the easiest way to describe Spencer Pigot’s 2015 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires season in a nutshell, en route to the championship and the $1 million Mazda scholarship for three 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series races, including the chance to qualify for the 100th Indianapolis 500.

Pigot has emerged as the poster child of the Mazda Road to Indy, which has seen a wealth of its graduates move into IndyCar over the years.

It’s crazy that at 22, Pigot is something of an old soul, but the Orlando native been around the block a few times.

He won back-to-back Mazda scholarships in 2009 and 2010, and by 2011 he was firmly on the Mazda Road to Indy, in his first season in USF2000.

But after those first two scholarships, Pigot came up just short of USF2000 titles in 2011 and 2012, then endured a challenging first season in Pro Mazda in 2013.

He stood at the precipice of his open-wheel career possibly fading away going into the Pro Mazda title tilt in 2014 with Scott Hargrove, likely needing another one to advance. But win it he did, and he emerged as champion to move into Indy Lights this season.

And come Mazda Raceway two weeks ago, there was only one suitable outcome once again.

“Going into the weekend we knew there was only thing we’d be happy with,” Pigot told MotorSportsTalk after Monterey.

“It was really good to have (Juncos Racing teammate Kyle Kaiser) there. We didn’t get complacent. Kept us at the front for the whole weekend. I didn’t get pole, but tried to keep my nose clean. Luckily I came out unscathed.

“Max (Chilton) made it fairly easy for me. I was able to slip by. When I got in the lead, and hit my marks, that was the trick. It’s a difficult place to pass.”

Pigot banked both wins during the weekend at Mazda Raceway in order to secure his crown.

The first came, as noted, following Chilton’s slip up in Saturday’s first race of the weekend.

The second on Sunday came after surviving a crazy, three-wide start up the hill and then controlling the race through to the checkered flag.

Pigot was understandably emotional when he embraced his family and his Juncos Racing team when he got out of the car, told he’s moving up into IndyCar next year.

“It sounds pretty good to me! Yeah I still can’t believe it,” Pigot told Rob Howden, the voice of the Mazda Road to Indy.

“What a program with this Mazda Road to Indy. I’ve been so fortunate to be able to take advantage of it. It takes me to my ultimate dream, which is the Indianapolis 500. All my family, all my supporters… I can’t thank everyone enough.”

Pigot also reflected on his long-term relationship with team owner Ricardo Juncos. The two started together in karting and Pigot has now delivered Juncos back-to-back titles in the two top rungs of the ladder.

“It’s incredible. If you’d have told me 10 years ago this could happen, I’d have said you were absolutely crazy,” Pigot said. “But here we are. Pro Mazda champs. Indy Lights champs. Every year I drive for them I’ve won a championship in something. I don’t know what it will be like in the future.”

Throughout the month leading up to Mazda Raceway, Pigot maintained the same focus as he had all season, even as he knew he had to overtake Jack Harvey (Schmidt Peterson Motorsports) and fend off Ed Jones (Carlin) for the title.

“Coming into this weekend was same as every weekend. We want to win every weekend,” said Pigot, who banked his fifth and sixth wins of the season there, which eclipsed Newgarden by one over a season.

“Sometimes it doesn’t go as planned. But we came here knowing we’d be quick. We were quick right away. We always kept pushing, fine tuning the car. Came away with a couple wins. Maybe not outright quickest guy in qualifying but we used our heads in the race.”

Pigot also thanked both Harvey and Jones for racing clean in the finale.

“Before I was even in third gear, Harvey was outside me. It was pretty hairy,” Pigot said.

“I was waiting for smoke, waiting to look towards the sky or something and the wheels to tangle. We fought hard and aggressive but it was clean. It was aggressive on Jack’s part but it was very clean on the run down to 1.

“It was good to see. He could have easily made other choices and made it a very different day. Kudos to him and to those guys, they had a great season. Really enjoyed racing against all of them. I learned a lot from racing against them, and I hope it helps me next year.”

Pigot now has to figure out what team he’ll move up to IndyCar with, as Juncos doesn’t have an IndyCar program.

But he’ll be eternally thankful for all who have helped get him in this position. Besides the above mentions of family, Juncos and Mazda, other sponsors like Art Wilmes’ Rising Star Racing have made key investments in the talented young driver.

“Rising Star Racing has been a huge part for the last few years,” Pigot said. “They work so hard for me, Neil (Alberico) and Josef (Newgarden) to further our careers. Now they have the big job again to help me move into IndyCar. I’m so fortunate for so many others who’ve been behind me.

“The past few offseasons have been, obviously always stressful, but this one will be less. But thanks to this program, the Mazda Road to Indy, we have another scholarship to figure out what we want to do with.

“The best problem to have in the world is what you want to do with the next Mazda scholarship. Can’t wait and looking forward to the offseason.”

Chase Sexton wins Triple Crown Anaheim 2 Supercross: Levi Kitchen unseats Jett Lawrence in 250s

Supercross Anaheim 2
Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media

Chase Sexton won two of the three races in the Monster Energy Supercross Anaheim 2 Triple Crown, which was enough to overcome a fifth-place finish in Race 2 and give him the overall victory. It was the second Supercross win of his career.

“Super big night for me,” Sexton told NBC Sports’ Will Christien. “After last weekend with that being a struggle, I just need to come out here and stop the bleeding a little bit and I did that tonight.”

Sexton suffered a crash on Lap 1 of his heat, sending him into Last Chance Qualifier. The bad gate pick put him in a difficult position to start the race and he was able to climb to only fifth at the checkers.

At Anaheim 2, three riders entered the final race of the Triple Crown in a winner-take-all scenario. Sexton, Jason Anderson and Eli Tomac each had a shot at victory. It raised the intensity level for all riders in an evening that featured a lot of comers and goers.

Jason Anderson took the early lead in Race 3, which set him up for the overall victory. Sexton stalked and passed him midway through the race and then a minor mistake late allowed Webb to slip around as well. Anderson’s 5-1-3 gave him second overall.

“I had a tough couple of rounds, getting off that Anaheim 1 crash and then last week weekend I fumbled a little bit, but I’m excited to get back on the box and start moving forward,” Anderson told Jason Thomas.

Anderson finished seventh in the first two rounds of 2023.

RESULTS: How they finished for the 450 Main in Anaheim 2

Ken Roczen was the model of consistency in the opening rounds and at Anaheim 2. In three races so far this year, he’s gotten progressively better each time with a fifth in A1, a fourth last week in San Deigo and a third this week.

With results of 2-3-4, he earned his first podium of the season, which lands him fourth in the standings.

“This was hard earned,” Roczen said after the race. “I completely botched the start and then to have to work my way up. I only happen on the very last lap to step up here on the podium.”

Webb’s solid second-place finish in the third race allowed him to leapfrog several riders and finish fourth overall, but a seventh in Race 1 kept him off the podium. He improved in each race in Anaheim, however, with a 7-4-2.

With a 4-6-5, Dylan Ferrandis rounded out the top five.

The intensity of the race was a little too much for Tomac.

While battling side-by-side with Webb in Race 3 at the one-third mark, Tomac jumped wide and crashed hard. He fell to 14th, doing some damage to his bike in the process. He advanced only one position in that race to 13th. His first two races, a third and second, were strong enough to give him sixth overall. He retains the points lead, but it has shrunk to a gap of only four over Sexton and Webb.

Malcolm Stewart injured late in the week and was not able to mount.

Levi Kitchen became the first rider to unseat Jett Lawrence in the Triple Crown format at Anaheim 2 and won the overall with consistency. In his three races, Kitchen finished 4-2-2 to narrowly edge the winner of the first two races.

“This whole day; this is unbelievable. I took a few good slams in practice and I was down on myself,” Kitchen told NBC Sports Jason Thomas afterward. “The first moto I got a good start and got shuffled back, then I knew I just needed to be consistent.”

Jett Lawrence saved his best for last – which wasn’t hard given the struggles he experienced in the first two races.

Despite those problems, he entered Race 3 of the Triple Crown three points behind Kitchen after suffering a pair of disappointing races by his personal measuring stick. In the first and second 250 races of the night, Lawrence hit the ground. He dropped to the final rider in the running order in Race 2 with a Lap 1 fall. But in both races, he was able to overcome his mistake and close the gap so that he had a chance to take his first Triple Crown win of his career.

Click here for full 250 West Main Results

Lawrence rode to third in Race 1 and sixth in Race 2. In the final race of the night, Lawrence did all he could. He earned the holeshot, but when Kitchen fell in behind him, Lawrence’s fate was sealed. His 3-6-1 tied him in points with Stilez Robertson, but the tiebreaker goes to the final round and his win secured second-place.

“I can definitely say Triple Crowns are not my thing,” Lawrence told NBC Sports Will Christien. “We have one more to try and fix this, so hopefully we can get that done.”

Lawrence will move into the 450 class for the Lucas Oil Motocross outdoor season and his 250 record book will be closed.

The best news for Lawrence is the other riders who entered this round in the top three had a worse night, so Lawrence leaves Anaheim with a 16-point gap on Cameron McAdoo and 17 over RJ Hampshire.

Roberston finished 6-1-3 to take the final step of the podium.

“Getting that win in the second Main meant a lot,” Roberston told Thomas. “I wish I could have done a little better in the third one, but we’re still up here on the box.”

Mitchell Oldenburg used consistency to earn fourth in the overall. He finished 5-4-6.

After missing the Main last week in San Diego, Max Vohland finished 7-8-4 to round out the top five.

RJ Hampshire set himself up as the early favorite with his Race 1 win. In Race 2, it all fell apart. He fell in the sand section and damaged his bike, finishing last in that race. The final event of the night for the 250s provided only a 13th-place finish, leaving Hampshire deep in the points.

Cameron McAdoo hard crash in qualification, which was scary news for a team that has seen three of their riders sidelined with injury. McAdoo was never quite able to get his rhythm with an 8-7-5.

2023 Race Recaps

San Diego: Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence double down
Anaheim 1: Tomac wins opener for the first time

Anaheim 2 coverage

Power Rankings Week 2
SuperMotocross tightens playoff schedule
Eli Tomac, Jett Lawrence go two-for-two in San Diego
Results and points after San Diego
Seth Hammaker to miss 250 E season opener with wrist injury
Jo Shimoda joins Seth Hammaker, Austin Forkner with injury
Injury sidelines Austin Forkner for remainder of 2023 SX