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Jul 01, 2014 - 06:51 AM
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Spencer Pigot Wins Round 9: Julia Ballario Claims Career Best Finish
Posted by: newsla on Jul 01, 2014 - 06:49 AM
Support Series News
Spencer Pigot Wins Round 9: Julia Ballario Claims Career Best Finish


Juncos Racing picked up their fifth win of the 2014 Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires with driver Spencer Pigot winning Round 9 of the Allied Building Products Pro Mazda Grand Prix of Houston Presented by Marlin CNG Services at NRG Park. Teammate Julia Ballario scored her best finish in the Pro Mazda Championship finishing Round 8 in fourth position. Juncos Racing continues to hold onto the lead of the Pro Mazda Championship.

 

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Taking back the lead in the Pro Mazda Championship, Spencer Pigot, 20, driving the #7 Doug Mockett & Company/Rising Star Racing/VitaminPro App/California Scents/Juncos Racing car showed a commanding performance leading every lap in Round 9 to claim his fifth win of the season. Pigot qualified second for Round 8 and took the lead, but rainy conditions late in the race caused the field to pit for rain tires. Pigot had lost all radio communication and did not hear his call to pit, causing him to fall back in the field to finish ninth.

“It was great to get the win after a difficult race in Round 8,” said Pigot. “I have to say thank you to the guys for all of their hard work this weekend. We improved in every session and ended with a win so we’re very happy. It was a tough weekend but we extended our lead in the championship which we hope to build on at Mid-Ohio.”

Earning her best career finish in the Pro Mazda Championship Argentinean rookie Julia Ballario, 22, driving the #6 Pistas Argentinas/Argetina Art/Juncos Racing car finished just outside the podium taking fourth in Round 8 after qualifying in 11th, earning her the Quarter Master Hard Charger award at Houston. Ballario started Round 9 in 11th and finished in 10th position.

“It was a great weekend finishing fourth in a difficult Round 8 running in the rain,” said Ballario. “In Round 9 I had a tough race trying to stay up to pace with the rest of the field and we were unable to get the finish we were looking for. With a fourth and 10th place finish I showed a lot of improvement this weekend and look to keep that momentum going through this season. I want to thank everyone on my Juncos Racing team for their hard work and to all of my sponsors for their support.”

Rookie José Gutiérrez, 17, driving the #5 Racing for Mexico/Juncos Racing car gave his best qualifying run of the season starting fourth in Round 8. Gutiérrez fell back to finish seventh in Round 8 after rainy conditions caused low visibility for the drivers halfway through the race. In Round 9 Gutiérrez started ninth and finished just inside the Top-10 in eighth position.

“For Round 8, I qualified fourth my best qualifying position of the year,” said Gutiérrez. “The race was difficult because of the changing weather. The race started dry but halfway through the rain came. A lot of teams thought the race was going to be red flagged. Everyone had on black visors so it was difficult to see but we were able to finish inside the Top-10. In Round 9, we started in ninth because my second lap in qualifying was a little slow. The race was interesting with a lot of passing in the first turn. Halfway through the race we battled understeer and I was trying to overcome to give my best finish. I learned a lot in both races and will take this to the next race to continue to improve each time we go to the race.”

Kyle Kaiser, 18, driving the #18 InterVision/NetApp/JuniperNetworks/Riverbed/Juncos Racing car battled tough luck in both Rounds 8 and 9. Kaiser qualified fifth and had a great start advancing to second in Round 8 until a missed pit call for rain tires caused him to fall back and finish eighth. In Round 9 Kaiser started in fifth and advanced to third, but was hit from behind in Turn-4 on the first lap, then after pitting to repair a broken tie-rod, finished a disappointing 15th.

“The results from Houston this weekend were not indicative of my efforts or performance,” said Kaiser. “Both races had unique circumstances that were beyond my control, and I’m glad that’s behind me. It’s unfortunate, because the team worked extremely hard to set up an amazing car. I’m confident I’ll be battling for more podium finishes in the near future, but for now my focus is on conditioning, mid-season testing, and preparing for Mid-Ohio.”

After a difficult start to the hot weekend in Houston, Team Owner, Ricardo Juncos, was thrilled to add the fifth win of the season with his team and Julia Ballario’s impressive best finish in the Pro Mazda Championship.

“This weekend was one of the most difficult ones of the season,” said Juncos. “Even being one of the most difficult weekends this team really showed a lot of determination even when we had weather and on track issues to battle. Spencer arrived in Houston three points ahead in the championship and after Round 8 we dropped to 13 points behind. The win in Round 9 moved us back into the front in the championship. Practice was a bit of a struggle, but once again our engineer Ernie (Ernesto Gonella) was able to set the cars up to give the drivers fast cars for qualifying almost taking the pole with Spencer (Pigot). For a rookie Jose (Gutiérrez) had a very impressive qualifying run making his highest start of the year in fourth. In the first race (Round 8) everything was looking great. Spencer and Kyle (Kaiser) were running up front together. Kyle had a great start moving up to make a run for the lead and really impressed me showing so much determination. Then the rain came and we did not have great radio communication with Spencer and Kyle and they did not hear the call at the proper time to come in for rain tires. Julia (Ballario) really stepped up in Round 8, running faster than the leaders in the rain in the last five laps of the race. If she would have had a lap or two more she would have made her way to the podium. I am extremely happy for her and this proves what we can do with our driver development program. The win in the next race (Round 9) with Spencer is what we really needed for the team and for the tough battle in the championship. We feel like we are back in business after a tough run in the last four races, but we still have five more races to go this season so we need to keep our heads down and continue our hard work. I cannot thank the crew and drivers enough for all of the hard work they do, the sponsors for their support and all of the families a part of Juncos Racing

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