Pigot enjoys best run in an IndyCar to date, P9 at Road America

Photo: IndyCar

ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – Spencer Pigot had some past track experience in an IndyCar from a one-day test at Road America earlier this month, and the talented 22-year-old American parlayed that into his best race to date on Sunday in the KOHLER Grand Prix.

The driver of the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet for Ed Carpenter Racing started 17th and made his way forward to ninth in his sixth Verizon IndyCar Series start of the year (three apiece with Carpenter and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing).

The 2015 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires champion and winningest driver in Mazda Road to Indy history mixed it up with plenty of series veterans in arguably his best drive to date that resulted in his best career finish thus far.

“It was great. It was a really fun race!” Pigot told NBC Sports post-race. “We spent most of it a little off strategy trying to get a clear track. I had to save fuel.

“The guys gave me an awesome car. I really enjoyed it. Pushed hard throughout most of the race. It was kind of interesting to see who I came out with, and how much time I gained or lost. It got wild at the end, because you have to fight so hard for every position. There were a couple times going into Turn 5, where it was me and Carlos (Munoz), then me and Simon (Pagenaud), where one of us braked way too late but we somehow came out the other end.

“I can’t thank this team and Rising Star Racing enough for the opportunity.”

Pigot also did a good job of managing both his Firestone black primary and red alternate tires over the course of the race.

“It was pretty good actually,” he said. “We started the race on used reds. I was in a lot of traffic. But the blacks held up. We didn’t have much tire deg over the course of a lap time.”

Team owner Carpenter, who will return to the wheel of the No. 20 car at the Iowa Corn 300 on July 10 before Pigot is back in at Toronto, hailed Pigot’s performance.

“It’s Spencer’s first top-10 I think in an IndyCar race. So that’s awesome, and we’re really happy for him,” Carpenter told NBC Sports. “He’s getting better quick. We don’t show it all the time, but from the team we’re seeing the potential he has. He’s going to get better and better and better.”

Hunter Lawrence defends Haiden Deegan after controversial block pass at Detroit


Media and fan attention focused on a controversial run-in between Haiden Deegan and his Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing teammate Jordon Smith during Round 10 of the Monster Energy Supercross race at Detroit, after which the 250 East points’ Hunter Lawrence defends the young rider in the postrace news conference.

Deegan took the early lead in Heat 1 of the round, but the mood swiftly changed when he became embroiled in a spirited battle with teammate Smith.

On Lap 3, Smith caught Deegan with a fast pass through the whoops. Smith briefly held the lead heading into a bowl turn but Deegan had the inside line and threw a block pass. In the next few turns, the action heated up until Smith eventually ran into the back of Deegan’s Yamaha and crashed.

One of the highlights of the battle seemed to include a moment when Deegan waited on Smith in order to throw a second block pass, adding fuel to the controversy.

After his initial crash, Smith fell to seventh on the next lap. He would crash twice more during the event, ultimately finishing four laps off the pace in 20th.

The topic was inevitably part of the postrace news conference.

“It was good racing; it was fun,” Deegan said at about the 27-minute mark in the video above. “I just had some fun doing it.”

Smith had more trouble in the Last Chance Qualifier. He stalled his bike in heavy traffic, worked his way into a battle for fourth with the checkers in sight, but crashed a few yards shy of the finish line and was credited with seventh. Smith earned zero points and fell to sixth in the standings.

Lawrence defends Deegan
Jordon Smith failed to make the Detroit Supercross Main and fell to sixth in the points. – Feld Motor Sports

“I think he’s like fifth in points,” Deegan said. “He’s a little out of it. Beside that it was good, I don’t know. I wasn’t really paying attention.”

Deegan jokingly deflected an earlier question with the response that he wasn’t paying attention during the incident.

“He’s my teammate, but he’s a veteran, he’s been in this sport for a while,” Deegan said. “I was up there just battling. I want to win as much as everybody else. It doesn’t matter if it’s a heat race or a main; I just want to win. I was just trying to push that.”

As Deegan and Smith battled, Jeremy Martin took the lead. Deegan finished second in the heat and backed up his performance with a solid third-place showing in the main, which was his second podium finish in a short six-race career. Deegan’s first podium was earned at Daytona, just two rounds ago.

But as Deegan struggled to find something meaningful to say, unsurprisingly for a 17-year-old rider who was not scheduled to run the full 250 schedule this year, it was the championship leader Lawrence who came to his defense.

Lawrence defends Deegan
A block pass by Haiden Deegan led to a series of events that eventually led to Jordon Smith failing to make the Main. – Feld Motor Sports

“I just want to point something out, which kind of amazes me,” Lawrence said during the conference. “So many of the people on social media, where everyone puts their expertise in, are saying the racing back in the ’80s, the early 90s, when me were men. They’re always talking about how gnarly it was and then anytime a block pass or something happens now, everyone cries about it.

“That’s just a little bit interesting. Pick one. You want the gnarly block passes from 10 years ago and then you get it, everyone makes a big song and dance about it.”

Pressed further, Lawrence defended not only the pass but the decision-making process that gets employed lap after lap in a Supercross race.

“It’s easy to point the finger,” Lawrence said. “We’re out there making decisions in a split millisecond. People have all month to pay their phone bill and they still can’t do that on time.

“We’re making decisions at such a fast reaction [time with] adrenaline. … I’m not just saying it for me or Haiden. I speak for all the guys. No one is perfect and we’re under a microscope out there. The media is really quick to point a finger when someone makes a mistake.”

The media is required to hold athletes accountable for their actions. They are also required to tell the complete story.