Spencer Pigot is one of IndyCars rising stars. He races for Ed Carpenter Racing, who has a knack for the Indy 500 and breeds great talent like Josef Newgarden who won the series championship in 2017, and pilots the teams 21 car which is the only full time car on the team. He’s also one of my best friends and friend of The Recline.
It’s been an up and down year for him so far as he’s had some bad luck in qualifying but has made the most out of his situation in the race itself. He took the time to speak to The Recline about his season thus far and what he expects moving forward.
RA: You’ve hit some bad luck when it comes to qualifying so far this year with red flags coming out at terrible times What’s the biggest thing that needs to change to qualify well this weekend and do you think IndyCar should change the rule that qualifying can end on a red while guys are still getting their hot laps in?
SP: In qualifying you’re always pushing the limit in terms of driving the car but also when you choose to set your lap time. The sessions are only 10 minuets and the track is always getting faster because more rubber is being laid down every lap from all of the cars so the later you go the better chance you have of putting in a fast lap. The risk with that is if another driver crashes and you haven’t had a chance to finish your lap then you’re screwed so you have to decide how much you want to risk being a bit faster or not getting a lap in. IndyCar has a 5 minuets of guaranteed green running in each qualifying session but as I said before, the track is best at the end of the session when everyone is on the softer Firestone ‘red’ tires. It’s tricky, kind of a lottery, sometime you get your lap in sometimes you don’t. I’m not sure there’s a great solution, maybe they could allow everyone to do one more lap if there is a red flag during qualifying after the accident is cleaned up.
RA: Will Power stated his frustration with the pit window being closed during caution. Do you agree with his sentiments?
SP: That’s another tricky one. It can either work for you or against you and I think IndyCar likes the way it can make races unpredictable. If you’re running near the back, make a pit stop and then a caution comes out, you’ll cycle passed all the other cars that were in front of you when they make their pit stop. Obviously if you’re leading the race like Will was then it totally ruins your day because you can go from 1st to 12th through no fault of your own. Some days it works in your favor and other days it doesn’t but I do think there are ways to change the protocol to protect the drivers up front because they have earned their track position and shouldn’t be penalized for it.
RA: Last year HIGPA got rained out and we’re looking ahead to some wet weather again. Any word on if they’ve fixed the problems with the puddling up that occurred in 2018?
SP: I’m not sure if there have been any changes to the track to address those issues. There was so much rain last year that I’m not sure you can really help that too much. The biggest issue is the spray that the cars create in the rain, if you’re behind another car you’re basically driving blind. Once the cars get running and start to dissipate the standing water the visibility improves and everything is fine.
RA: Towards the end of the COTA race, you and your teammate Ed Jones got into some real racing and bumping. What is usually the protocol with teammates where one is slower than the other? Should he have let you go at that point or was he right for continuing to race you?
SP: The only rule is don’t take each other out of the race. Ed and I had some good battles at COTA and I’m sure we’ll have more throughout the season. In that situation there was no reason for him to let me by so we were allowed to race hard but sensibly. If it’s the last race of the season and there’s a championship on the line for one of us then that’s a different story but until then I wouldn’t expect him to let me by and I’m sure he doesn’t expect that from me either.
RA: With one year under your belt in the new aero kits, has the team figured them out and can we expect your first win this season?
SP: I think we’ve made a lot of progress over the winter and the car is getting better all of the time. The new aero kits produce a lot less downforce so it’s changed the way we set the cars up at every track. Indycar is extremely competitive but I hope we can get our first win together sooner rather than later. This weekend in Barber would be nice!
Catch the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama this Sunday at 4:00PM EST/3:00PM CST on NBCSports.
Follow Spencer on twitter and instagram @spencerpigot