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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.

WATCH: Red Bull F1 team completes pit stop in zero gravity

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The Red Bull Racing pit crew may have already made headlines last weekend when it completed the fastest pit stop in Formula One history, changing Max Verstappen’s tires in 1.82 seconds, but the team’s most recent stunt took their skills to new heights – quite literally.

With the help of the Russian Space agency Roscomos, a group of the team’s mechanics completed the world’s first zero-gravity pit stop, on-board a IIyushin II-76K cosmonaut training plane.

Using a 2005 BR1, the team filmed the viral video over the course of a week, enduring seven flights and about 80 parabolas – periods in which the plane climbs 45 degrees before falling again at a ballistic arch of 45 degrees, creating a period of weightlessness for approximately 22 seconds.

With such a short time frame between weightlessness periods, the car and equipment had to be both quickly and safely secured before gravity once again took effect. Each filming lasted roughly 15 seconds, and the stunt was the most physically and technically demanding activity the live demo team had ever undertaken.

“It pushed us harder than I thought it would,” said Red Bull Support Team Mechanic Joe Robinson. “You realize how much you rely on gravity when you don’t have any!

“It challenges you to think and operate in a different way – and that was brilliant. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and honestly, I could have stayed and done it all month. It was amazing. I think it’s the coolest, most fun thing the Live Demo team has ever done with a show car.”

Though Red Bull was the first team to perform a pit stop in zero gravity, surprisingly Red Bull was not the first team to put a car through zero gravity. In 1999, McLaren driver David Coulthard and his car experienced zero gravity as part of a promotion for then-sponsor West Cigarettes.

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