By David Morgan, Associate Editor
INDIANAPOLIS – Spencer Pigot has been right on the cusp of breaking through in his second full-time season with Ed Carpenter Racing, but since he and the team rolled into Indianapolis for the Month of May, things have been on a whole new level.
After finishing fifth in the Indianapolis Grand Prix to kick off the month, the driver of the No. 21 Chevrolet backed it up by setting the fastest time in the first day of Indianapolis 500 qualifications, giving him an added confidence boost heading into last Sunday’s Pole Day.
Though he wasn’t able to top the Fast Nine and score his first pole position, the 2015 Indy Lights champion did put up an average speed of 229.826 mph to land a third place starting spot and the first front row start of his young NTT IndyCar Series career.
Add in that his teammates qualified second and fourth, Pigot and ECR are showing speed that could carry them to the top of the scoring pylon when the checkered flag flies in the 103rd running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
“I feel good,” Pigot said. “I feel like we’re really strong. Like we could have some of the cars to beat on Sunday, so that’s a really nice feeling heading into the Indy 500. Things the past few weeks have gone well. We’ve had pace throughout the season, but it’s nice to have had a few smooth, trouble-free weekends to kind of show what we can do. Hopefully we can do that again on Sunday, but yeah, I’m feeling good, feeling confident.
“I think the goal will be to stay in the top 3-4-5 positions throughout the race. It does become more challenging the deeper in the train of cars that you get. Sitting behind 10 to 12 cars in practice, it’s definitely harder. The air is not very clean. It’s hard to kind of get runs, so it’ll be important to try and stay up front. Obviously, no mistakes, penalties in pit lane, nothing like that.
“Last year, we had a really solid opening few stints and then we had the penalty and then we were just waiting for the right yellow from there that never came. So, hopefully this year, we have a smoother day, trouble-free, and just see what we can do.”
This year’s race will also mark the second with the current aero kit that made its debut in 2018 and provided some challenges when it came to being able to make moves in traffic, especially in warmer temperatures that made the 2.5-mile track a handful to deal with. Despite that, Pigot noted that the best cars will still rise to the top when all is said and done on Sunday.
“I think you can get (to the front) with a good car,” Pigot said. “I also think you can get there if you’re kind of smart and patient. If you do fall back, waiting for the right moment to kind of pounce on the car in front if they have to do a big lift or get understeer or whatever and attack that way. I think the best cars in the field will be able to come through no matter what.”
Pigot and the team will have one final chance to dial in their car during Carb Day practice on Friday before everything is finalized for the race. Though they have been strong thus far, the Californian noted there are still a few things they can improve heading into the race.
“Make it a little bit better in traffic,” he said of the plan for practice. “Trying to lift less, stay flat more behind other cars. It’s never finished. It’s always an evolving process. We’ve got a few things we want to try, a few things to validate, and pick and choose what we want to put on the race car.”