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IndyCar 2017 driver review: Spencer Pigot

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MotorSportsTalk continues its annual review of the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers that raced in 2017. Spencer Pigot enjoyed a solid sophomore season, running in all road and street course races for Ed Carpenter Racing from the start of the year and helped longtime friend and team owner Ricardo Juncos fulfill his dream of making his first Indianapolis 500 start.

Spencer Pigot, No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet, No. 11 Juncos Racing Chevrolet

  • 2016: 21st place (10 starts), Best Finish 7th, Best Start 17th, 0 Top-5, 2 Top-10, 0 Laps Led, 20.6 Avg. Start, 15.7 Avg. Finish
  • 2017: 20th place (12 starts), Best Finish 8th, Best Start 13th, 0 Top-5, 3 Top-10, 8 Laps Led, 17.1 Avg. Start, 15.0 Avg. Finish

Stats won’t tell the story of Spencer Pigot’s year-to-year improvement and growth in confidence, which was enough to move the Rising Star Racing-supported driver into a full-time seat with Ed Carpenter Racing in 2018. The bottom line was many of his results could have been better save for some lucky breaks.

Between a brake rotor igniting (St. Petersburg), his engine misfiring (Indianapolis road course), suspension repairs (Road America), and a cut tire (Toronto), four potential fifth to eighth place results went begging. It was unfortunate his best result of the year was eighth when he ran regularly in the top five or six before the issues struck in whatever roundabout way they could. His passing ability and deft touch on the brakes was easy to take note of.

His one tough weekend this year came after Pigot made a one-race detour to his Mazda Road to Indy team, Juncos Racing, for its Indianapolis 500 debut. He had a heavy impact exiting Turn 2 in practice, but rebounded by qualifying in a repaired car without any further practice, then held on to the otherwise woefully ill-handling car in the race.

The only real critique you could say of him is that his qualifying needs to be better, which is something Pigot freely admits. He still is yet to break out of Q1 in 20 road or street course race attempts, but he did improve his usual qualifying position this season. Crucially, he out-qualified JR Hildebrand in seven of the 10 races they were teammates this season, as Hildebrand’s offbeat setup choices rarely paid dividends. His higher upside was evident throughout the year, and he should only be better in 2018 following an offseason of testing.

IndyCar teams with NASCAR on IMS road course doubleheader in 2021

IndyCar NASCAR doubleheader 2021
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
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The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.

IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.

This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.

INDYCAR AT IMS THIS WEEKEND: Harvest GP schedule, entry lists

IndyCar will be holding its second race weekend this year at the IMS road course Friday and Saturday with the Harvest GP.

“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.