By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
Spencer Pigot was announced Thursday as Rahal Letterman Racing’s third entry for “The Month of May” at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Not only that, the car will also mark the INDYCAR debut of Citorne/Buhl Autosport (CBA), who’ve aligned with RLL Racing to get Pigot temporarily out of the free agency pool. The new team announced last Friday their intentions of competing in both the GMR Grand Prix (May 9) and the 104th Indianapolis 500 Presented by Gainbridge (May 24).
Pigot is excited to be back with RLL Racing, the team he drove in the NTT IndyCar Series for three races back in 2016, as well as having CBA on-board in the sport for the first time.
“I’m very excited to join Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing with Citrone/Buhl Autosport for this year’s GMR Grand Prix and Indianapolis 500,” Pigot said. “I ran my first IndyCar Series race and Indy 500 with RLL in 2016 so it will be nice to return to a team with some familiar faces. I can’t thank everyone at RLL and Citrone/Buhl Autosport enough for their efforts in putting this deal together and the opportunity to compete in another Indy 500. I can’t wait for May!”
The past two seasons, Pigot competed full-time with Ed Carpenter Racing before being let go in favor of Conor Daly this off-season. Little was heard about Pigot since his departure, but Bobby Rahal (co-owner of RLL Racing) is pleased bringing back the 26-year-old veteran for “The Month of May,” where he finished a personal best 14th last year.
“There is no question in my mind that he can contribute to the overall performance of the team based upon his strong performance last May and at other events throughout the season,” Pigot said. “Spencer is a team player and has a bright future in my opinion. We are looking forward to working with Citrone/Buhl Autosport on this entry. It is an exciting time for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and having a new team enter the sport is proof of that.”
After last Friday’s announcement, little was known about Citrone/Buhl Autosport, but the confirmation of Pigot joining the team provided additional details as to how the deal came together.
Co-owner of CBA, Robert Citrone, commented that as a lifelong fan of the sport, he’s wanted to get involved in INDYCAR at a bigger capacity. By joining forces with Bobby’s race team, partly due to their connections in Pittsburgh sports, it was the most ideal way to build experience as an INDYCAR team owner.
“We thought this was the best way to learn and gain experience at the highest level and have been incredibly impressed with all of the people we have met at RLL,” Citrone said. “Bobby and my family share a Pittsburgh connection with his dealership group based there and with my family’s involvement in the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“Being involved in sports and knowing how enjoyable, challenging and tough that is and how the quality of the organization is really the key. I think the Steelers have that with the quality of the organization with the Rooney family and we have that same feeling with the Rahal family and RLL.”
No stranger to the sport and team ownership, Robbie Buhl is beyond excited and confident working with the Citrone family (Robert and Nick), the entire RLL Racing team and Pigot at Indianapolis.
“We all want to win and this set up allows us to learn in an accelerated way. Getting to see more of how the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team operates and getting to see the depth of both the engineering and commercial side is exciting,” Buhl said. “We feel great about our partnership. You obviously look back at your own experiences as a driver and with Spencer having come up through the ranks leading to Indy car and winning the Pro Mazda and Indy Lights championships like he did shows that he can win.
“He knows his way around the IndyCar Series and he knows how to be fast at Indy. You just have to have a little bit of luck and have a good team behind you. In addition to that, what Takuma (Sato) and Graham (Rahal) offer to the program is invaluable. We’re excited.”
Car number and sponsorships for the latest entry at Indianapolis will be announced at a later date.