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May 26, 2014 - 05:25 PM
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Pigot Retains Pro Mazda Points Lead With Hard-Earned Third-Place Finish
Posted by: newsla on May 26, 2014 - 05:23 PM
Sports Cars
Pigot Retains Pro Mazda Points Lead With Hard-Earned Third-Place Finish


Spencer Pigot had to be content with a third-place finish after a puncture blunted his challenge for the lead in Saturday night's Allied Building Products Oval Challenge, part of the traditional 69th Annual Visit Hendricks County Night Before the 500 at Lucas Oil Raceway. The hard-fought result allowed Pigot to retain his lead in the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires at the halfway stage in the 14-race season.

 

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Pigot had been looking forward to the first of only two visits to oval tracks on this season's schedule. The 20-year-old had won previously at the track in USF2000 competition and had proven the effectiveness of Juncos Racing's #7 Doug Mockett & Company/Rising Star Racing/Vitamin-DPro App/California Scents/OMP car during a test session earlier in the month. He picked up from where he left off by setting the pace both during an open test on Friday and in official practice on Saturday.

Andretti Autosport suddenly discovered some additional pace during single-car qualifying on Saturday afternoon, allowing Garett Grist to take the pole by a slender margin, but Pigot was content with second place on the grid. He remained confident that his car's consistency would allow him an opportunity to challenge for the victory.

Grist maintained his advantage at the start, despite a determined challenge from Pigot, and as the 90-lap race settled down, Pigot soon showed he would be the polesitter's primary rival. By Lap 20, the two leaders had edged out a margin of around two seconds over their nearest challenger, and Pigot redoubled his efforts to gain the upper hand. He drew alongside Grist at the exit of Turn Four on Lap 27 but wasn't able to complete the pass.

The sustained high speeds and g-loadings on the 0.686-mile Lucas Oil Raceway oval are not conducive to overtaking, but when Grist's car slipped sideways in Turn Three on Lap 45, Pigot thought he had an opportunity, only for the Canadian once more to hold his ground on the entry to Turn One. It was a classic tortoise-and-hare battle, with Pigot clearly faster, evidenced by him posting the fastest lap of the race, but Grist holding the positional advantage.

Shortly thereafter, the steering on Pigot's car tightened dramatically, making the physical challenge even harder. It later transpired his right-front tire had picked up a puncture. By the end of the race it was almost completely flat. Pigot was unable to prevent title rival Scott Hargrove making a pass for second with just six laps remaining but did manage to hold onto third at the checkered flag.

"It was a really tough race," said an exhausted Pigot. "We had been very fast in all the practice sessions, especially on longer runs. We went into the race very confident we would be able to get the win. It was close between Garett and me. We were side by side a few times! Unfortunately, I picked up a puncture on my right-front tire about halfway through the race. From there on I was just hanging on trying to finish as best I could. Overall I'm pleased with third under the circumstances. Juncos Racing gave me a great car; I can't thank them enough for all their hard work."

Pigot now leads Hargrove by three points, 180-177, as the series moves next to Reliant Park, Houston, Texas, for two more street course races in conjunction with the Verizon IndyCar Series on July 28/29.

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