By Christopher DeHarde, IndyCar & Road to Indy Writer
His results don’t show it, but Spencer Pigot’s on track performances for Ed Carpenter Racing so far this season on the road and street courses (and Juncos Racing at Indianapolis) show that he is deserving of a full time ride in the Verizon IndyCar Series.
Pigot has the pedigree to be competitive in IndyCar.
A two-time champion in the Mazda Road to Indy (Pro Mazda Championship in 2014, Indy Lights in 2015), he has transitioned solidly in North America’s top open wheel category. Repeatedly showing his ability as a a driver capable of passing on road and street circuits, with a notably strong potential top five run that ended with an eighth-place effort at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
He also brought his Juncos Racing car home with an 18th-place finish in the team’s debut at the 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil despite the car not being quite right, showing a lot of maturity for someone in his second attempt in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”
But where the winningest driver in Mazda Road to Indy history winds up is anybody’s guess but there are two clear candidates.
Ed Carpenter has run with a theme of ‘Team America’ for the last few seasons, only hiring two non-Americans to compete for his team since its founding with Mike Conway in 2014 and Luca Filippi in 2015 (for Carpenter Fisher Hartmann Racing) taking the reigns on the road and street courses of the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet while Carpenter ran on the ovals.
Pigot took up the road and street course specialist role for ECR in 2016 and has amassed five top-10 finishes in that time. Looking to the future, it’s clear that he should have options for 2018.
If Carpenter wants to expand his team to two full time cars with him running a third part time on ovals as he has suggested, then Pigot would be a fantastic signing for that car. Pigot has displayed his ability to pass on road and street circuits and having him run a full schedule will only make that team stronger.
However, Pigot also has an option to sign with Juncos Racing should they offer him a seat. Ricardo Juncos ran Spencer in karting for what was then known as Juncos Competition. Pigot rejoined Juncos for Pro Mazda and Indy Lights to win those titles in back to back years. Should an offer to Pigot be extended by Juncos, it would be a ‘Return of the Prodigal Son’ of sorts.
The choice is up to Pigot. Stay with an established upper-midfield team and learn from an experienced veteran in JR Hildebrand or join a new team and re-establish a long relationship with the team owner that has tutored him throughout much of his open wheel career.
The Verizon IndyCar Series is poised for a youth movement at some point in the near future, which would be brighter with Spencer Pigot competing across every round on the tour.