Belle Isle notebook: Pigot ready for doubleheader challenge


DETROIT – Spencer Pigot knows he’s thrown himself right into the deep end, joining Ed Carpenter Racing for the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit presented by Quick Loans this weekend. The talented young American driver has shown many times in the past that he can handle it.

The rookie was named today to drive the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet at the remaining Verizon IndyCar Series road and street courses in 2016, with team owner Ed Carpenter continuing to pilot the entry on ovals. Pigot competed in three races for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing this season, including a 25th-place finish Sunday in the 100th Indianapolis 500.

Pigot has shown his talent and promise by steadily climbing the Mazda Road to Indy developmental ranks, culminating in the 2015 Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires championship.  But the 22-year-old has never raced on the Belle Isle temporary street course and is hopping from a Honda engine/aero package with RLL to a Chevrolet with ECR.

On top of that, with a doubleheader race weekend looming, just one practice is available Friday morning before Verizon P1 Award qualifying in the afternoon.

“The goal is try and get in as many laps as we can in the first practice session,” the Orlando, Florida, native said. “I’ve never been to this track before, I’ve never driven this car with this team, so there’s a lot for me to learn and we’ll see how it goes.

“I’ll still be learning a lot throughout the weekend, but as a driver and as a team, we all want to finish as high up as possible, so that’s what we’ll be looking to do.”

Pigot turned heads by finishing 11th at the Angie’s List Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course May 14, after placing 14th in his Verizon IndyCar Series debut at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on the city’s streets in March. One of those noticing was Carpenter.

“I’m really excited,” Carpenter said, “one, to have Spencer as part of the family here at ECR and, second, that we’ll be running two cars for the rest of the season. We want to be more than a one-car team and I think this makes us stronger.

“Spencer is a young guy, an American talent, and we see a good future for him. It’s nice to expand the team, and hopefully we can continue building on our successes.”

Carpenter will return to the No. 20 car for the Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway on June 10-11. Even though Pigot won’t be driving on ovals for ECR, the team owner saw how well Pigot bounced back after crashing in Indianapolis 500 practice on May 18.

“I was really impressed by how he overcame his crash at Indianapolis,” Carpenter said. “Indy is a really tough place to recover from crashes, but he’s a professional and we’ll treat him that way, and hopefully have a good weekend with both cars.”

Pigot spent part of today at the Carpenter transporter at Belle Isle stroking putts on a makeshift green in honor of Fuzzy's Vodka namesake Fuzzy Zoeller, the pro golfer. He is just pleased for the chance when it looked like his season might be done after Indianapolis.

“I’m very excited to be here at ECR and have this opportunity the rest of the year on road and street courses,” he said. “It’s very exciting for me, and this is a very good team, so I’m looking forward to getting things started here in Detroit, and hopefully have a good weekend.” 

NAPA Auto Parts continues sponsoring Indy 500 winner Rossi at Belle Isle

NAPA Auto Parts, which joined the program late but reaped the benefits of Alexander Rossi driving to victory in the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil on May 29, will remain the primary sponsor on Rossi’s car for the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit presented by Quicken Loans doubleheader this weekend.

Rossi will again drive the No. 98 NAPA Auto Parts/Curb Honda for Andretti Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian.

“The entire NAPA family is extremely happy with the incredible performance of Alexander Rossi and the entire Andretti Autosport/Bryan Herta team,” said Tip Tollison, president of NAPA Balkamp. “With the NAPA Auto Parts car winning the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500, it only makes sense to continue to race the NAPA colors in Detroit.”

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