By Christopher DeHarde, Staff Writer
Editor’s note: Motorsports Tribune will be previewing the NTT IndyCar Series season for the full-time drivers in the series leading into the 2019 season opener at St. Petersburg on March 10.
Team: Ed Carpenter Racing
Years in IndyCar: Three
Career Wins: 0
Career Podiums: One
Coming off of his first full season of NTT IndyCar Series competition, Spencer Pigot will be looking to build off of a stronger final half of 2018 to start 2019.
In the last eight races of 2018, the 2015 Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires champion had four top-10 finishes compared to one in the first nine races. Pigot’s podium at Iowa came after two other drivers pitted during the final caution of the race but still, the Californian-turned-Floridian had to put himself into a position to capitalize in case the race turned green again. It was a weekend where Pigot felt like he competed on an equal level with the Penske, Ganassi and Andretti cars and it showed.
“There were certain times throughout the year last year we felt like that and obviously even sometimes during a weekend we’d feel strong and not so strong,” said Pigot. “Iowa’s a good example, I think we were kind of as strong as anyone on that day and we had a really good race, I think Portland overall was a good one for us. We had an issue in qualifying and easily discovered it and put it right and we were really competitive in the race. I think those two were the standard of where we want to be.”
Pigot’s rise to IndyCar was a bit shaky at best. Winning the Indy Lights title in 2015 gave him a partial season with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing alongside Graham Rahal. After his partial season finished at Indianapolis, he took up the road and street course driving duty in the No. 20 machine with Ed Carpenter Racing in the last half of 2016 and had few, if any, expectations.
2017 gave everyone a few flashes of brilliance from the 2014 Indy Pro 2000 champion with three top-10 finishes in the early part of the season but his full potential could not be realized until he had more oval experience. After JR Hildebrand’s contract was not renewed for 2018, Pigot got his shot and managed to string together some great drives for his car owner and has bigger expectations for 2019.
“I think our confidence is up and we expect to be competitive,” said Pigot. “I think that’s something we need to try to be more consistent throughout the different types of tracks that we go to from road courses to street courses to different types of ovals and try to be consistently quick and competitive. That’s one thing that I don’t think we did a great job of last year but I think some of the things we’ve found over the winter will help us with that and that’s the goal, try to get my first win and finish as high as we can every week.”
With Pigot’s status as a part time driver in 2016 and 2017, it was difficult for him to get a rhythm at times because his status in the car was changing depending on what track type was up next. With a full time seat, the ability to focus on the next race without worrying about what kind of track it is helped his development as a driver.
“I think it’s always what you want to do is you want to be racing every weekend and I was fortunate enough to do that last year. For sure there were a lot of new experiences for me and now going into 2019 they’re no longer new. In my own mind there’s things I can go back and relate to and learn from and kind of hit the ground running at tracks I haven’t been to before last year. I think track time’s always good so obviously I have more of it now than I did last year at the beginning so we’ve learned more about the aero kits so we’ve got a better idea of what we need from the car and what we need to do.”
Pigot’s teammates in the No. 20 machine will be team owner Ed Carpenter on the ovals and former Chip Ganassi Racing driver Ed Jones on the road and street courses. Jones will be in a third car at the Indianapolis 500 in a joint entrant between ECR and Scuderia Corsa.