By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
SONOMA, California — In attempt of keeping continuity at Ed Carpenter Racing, the owner-driver confirmed at Friday’s press conference at Sonoma Raceway that Spencer Pigot will retain his ride in the No. 21 Chevrolet for 2019, and debunked rumors by announcing that he’ll run on all five ovals on the IndyCar Series schedule.
After spending the past two seasons sharing a ride with Carpenter, the former Indy Lights champion will wrap up first full-season Sunday, looking to continue has his second-half stride stride. Among his season highlights has been his first career top-fives, consisting of a runner-up finish at Iowa and fourth at Portland, his first-ever top-five on a road course.
“It’s been great to finally do a full season of IndyCar. Obviously doing a few part-time seasons allowed me to learn a lot. The races are so different than what I did in the Road to Indy,” Pigot said.
“Also having the consistency with Ed Carpenter Racing through those two part-time years, I think it definitely eased the transition and allowed us to have some really good races this year, and hopefully we can build on that for next season. Definitely it’s nice to have a second full season. Really nice to have the belief of the team behind me. Hopefully we can consistently be performing like we have been the second half of the season.”
Carpenter has believed in Pigot’s potential since his series debut in 2016, and sees him climbing up the running order going forward.
“Over the course of his time with the team, we’ve believed in his potential, seen the development,” said Carpenter.
“I think all of us would have hoped that we would have seen some wins by now, Spencer included, but at the same time there’s been still steady progression, especially when I look at the second half of this season, he’s been running and racing really well, as he always has.”
The three-time pole sitter of the Indianapolis 500 stated that it’s been challenging fielding a competitive car. By keeping Pigot, there are hopes he can compete for wins, and have his car back in winner’s circle as its been two seasons since an ECR entry was victorious.
“In this series, it’s so competitive. There’s not many guys you’re going to go out and hire that can just win races. For us, it’s important to try to develop that within the team,” said Carpenter.
“I still believe that Spencer has the potential and pedigree to win races, and ultimately championships. I think we’ve seen other guys that it just takes time to develop. We’re trying to give him that time. Hopefully this next season will be the year that we get back in the winner’s circle, if not this weekend.”
Outside of the major announcement, Carpenter is also trying to finalize one last sponsorship deal that’ll keep road course racer Jordan King in the No. 20 Chevrolet.
For the time being, Carpenter is the only confirmed driver in that car for the ovals, but will make one fewer start as ISM Raceway won’t return on the calendar and was replaced by Circuit of the Americas.
“It will be a similar situation to now. Contrary to some reports that have been out there about me just running Indy next year, that’s not true. I’ll be back for all the ovals,” said Carpenter.
“A little disappointed there’s one less, but I’ll take the five that I get. Hopefully we’ll have that finalized soon. We’ve certainly really enjoyed having Jordan as part of the team, see a lot of potential in him.
“Keeping Spencer was part of the continuity. I’m really hopeful that Jordan will be able to be back for a second season, as well, because I see a lot of potential in him. In a perfect world if we could continue building the team around the group we have now, I think that would be a really good situation for us. We’re working hard to finalize the last sponsor pieces to get that done. Hopefully it will be sooner than later.”
Carpenter’s goal is to eventually have full-time drivers in his cars to keep continuity, which he hasn’t felt thus far, but hopes he can get to that point where it stays consistent.
“That’s ultimately what we’re all working towards. Spencer spent two years in that role. Other than that we haven’t had a ton of continuity,” said Carpenter.
“In a perfect world, I would like to see us running two cars full-time with two guys running for the championship. We’re just not quite there yet. Hopefully we will be soon. We’ll just have to see how it plays out.”