By Christopher DeHarde, IndyCar & Road to Indy Writer
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. — Spencer Pigot has found himself on the wrong foot with strategy calls this year on road and street course races in the Verizon IndyCar Series but the Ed Carpenter Racing driver finally got on the good side on strategy early in Sunday’s INDYCAR Grand Prix at the Glen at Watkins Glen International.
Pigot pitted under the first caution after James Hinchcliffe’s car was stalled on track and was one of four cars to do so with Takuma Sato, Max Chilton and fellow ECR driver JR Hildebrand.
After Sato caused a full course yellow by pulling over after Turn 6 on Lap 15, Pigot did not pit, giving him the lead for the next eight laps. Pigot stayed in the lead until his next pit stop on Lap 23 but was up front soon after the next caution for Sato’s spin in the toe of the boot.
Pigot was then second for another ten laps before his next pit stop on Lap 38 and after another pit stop under caution on Lap 47, Pigot was mired back in the pack and was only able to get to 12th by the time the checkered flag flew.
Even though Pigot led, he wanted it to happen because of pace and not on strategy.
“I guess you can count that as a highlight of the day,” said Pigot. “I mean it doesn’t really mean that much, it was kind of on pit cycles. I spun there early on and kind of put us back there so we were able to go off strategy and it just worked out that way. It’s always nice to lead the field but we want to lead it on merit and not on a fuel sequence.”
Earlier in the season, Pigot was running near the front of the pack on merit on road and street courses but waiting to pit meant that he would be near the back of the pack, as in what happened in Toronto.
During the Honda Indy Toronto, Pigot was running in fourth place on merit before the caution came out for Tony Kanaan’s incident, and the resulting circumstances after that caution that dictated the race led to Pigot finishing 18th. Being on the right side of strategy was a refreshing change of pace at Watkins Glen.
“It’s nice, I mean it’s nice to restart the race and not have anyone in front of you so you can just kind of put your head down and try to pull away,” Pigot said. “In the end, the end result is pretty much all that matters and we just kind of had to make another late pit stop to top up for fuel and some new tires so that just kind of put us back there in the pack.”
Being that this was Pigot’s first time running up front in IndyCar, one would think that he might learn something new, but Pigot’s accustomed to running up front since he is the winningest driver in the Mazda Road to Indy.
“I don’t think I learned anything new running up front,” said Pigot. “I mean, I’ve led races before, obviously not in IndyCar but it’s the same kind of mentality, you just want to put your head down and drive as fast as you can.”
Pigot has been racing the road and street courses for Ed Carpenter Racing while the eponymous team owner drives the ovals in the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet. Pigot will be racing in the last race of the season at the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California.