By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing w/ Citrone/Buhl Autosport driver Spencer Pigot is awake and alert following a hard lick on the pit entry tire barriers with five laps remaining in the 104th Indianapolis 500 Presented by Gainbridge.
Running in 15th, Pigot’s No. 45 HyVee Honda spun at the entry of Turn 4 where his left side made wall contact. Pigot kept sliding until slamming into pit attenuator that’s bitten the likes of Dennis Firestone (1986), Kevin Cogan (1989), Mark Dismore (1991) and Billy Boat (2003) over the years.
Unlike most of those incidents, Pigot’s car stayed intact but it darted him back across the track as the rest of the field tried slowing down to avoid the mangled Honda.
Rather than red-flagging the race and setup a one or two-lap dash to the finish, IndyCar decided to end the race under caution with Pigot’s teammate Takuma Sato winning his second Indy 500.
The biggest attention remained on the 26-year-old veteran, who got out of his car under small assistance where he would be transported to a hospital for further evaluation.
RLL Racing co-owner Bobby Rahal immediately thought about his temporary driver and had they stopped the race to clean up the debris and repair the barriers, he wouldn’t know how the outcome would’ve panned out.
“I was worried if Spencer was okay. Seems he’s okay. That was my first concern,” said Rahal. “Having a restart at the end of the race, who knows who’s got the advantage, second-place guy, fourth-place guy, third-place guy. I think it’s silly to sit there and try to predict what might have happened.
“The reality is Takuma won. This isn’t the first 500 that’s been flagged under yellow. It was a hell of a mess out there.”
David Letterman also shared the same sentiment Rahal had regarding Pigot’s accident.
“I’m happy that Spencer is doing well, as we understand,” said Letterman. “It was quite a mess, as Bobby explained. First and foremost, our best thoughts for him.”
Although Sato was all smiles of capturing another Indy 500 victory, he shared his thoughts about not stopping the race and credited the sport’s safety improvements such as the areoscreen, which might’ve played a vital role of preventing Pigot from serious injury.
“I know fans wanted to see checkered flag battling for the win. Sometimes happen. Really, how can I say, feel glad that my teammate Spencer got out of the car,” Sato on Pigot. “Looked really bad angle, I was a little worried about it. Once again, improvement for the safety of INDYCAR, INDYCAR did a phenomenal job. Aeroscreen, we now feel so much protection. I think they done a fantastic job.”
Time will tell when Pigot will make another NTT IndyCar Series start as Sunday marked only his second race of the season with his other being the GMR Grand Prix last month.
Update: Pigot would be released from the hospital and headed back home hours after his crash.