INDIANAPOLIS – Heading into the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season, no one really knew what to expect out of the Ed Carpenter Racing duo. In the full-time seat, was Spencer Pigot. He spent the past two years as a part-time driver in the series. Replacing him in the part-time seat in sharing with team owner Ed Carpenter, was Jordan King. He’s a driver with zero experience on any tracks in the United States.
With a brand new car for the season and virtually two new drivers, how would they fare in Sunday’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Pete.
The results show a 15th place finish for Pigot and 21st for King. Neither were on the lead lap. But, the results don’t tell the whole entire story though. Both drivers were actually quick. Very quick. Both had the pace to compete for the win last weekend as a result. If not for both having an issue occur, they were set for dual top 10’s at worst. That’s why both were frustrated following the 2018 season opener.
King, started fourth and even led five laps on Sunday. He had his No. 20 Chevrolet in contention in the early portions of the 110 Lap race. That wasn’t a fluke either. He was 11th, 15th and fourth respectively in the three practices on the 1.8-mile track too. But, he had an a mistake not of his doing which took him out.
“On the positive, I led my first INDYCAR race,” said King. “It is nice to be able to say that. I am reserved, so I didn’t actually do it, but I did have a little bit of a mental fist pump in my mind when we took the lead. The speed was really good during the race, we genuinely had the pace to challenge for the race win. After the first stop, we picked up a puncture and slid against the wall and had some damage. It was frustrating more than anything to be hindered by that. Overall, I am happy from the sense that the speed is there, but disappointed to throw away a result. I know not every weekend is going to be like this, but it was great to be fast and challenging for the race win. It just hurts a bit when you throw away a good result like that.”
Pigot, actually had more pace in his No. 21 Chevrolet. He was 10th, 11th and seventh in the trio of practices. Unfortunately, he never made it out of the opening round of qualifying and would start 16th. He would charge up the field, then was hit by Graham Rahal in Turn 1, causing him to pit for repairs. That ended what was supposed to be a strong run.
“It was a pretty wild race out there,” Pigot said of his race. “It was very tricky at the beginning going into Turn 1, trying to pass people on the paint. Early on, we were hit from behind and stalled. From there, we just had to try and battle back. We had a really good restart in the middle of the race and passed a lot of cars, then, unfortunately, we had another issue in the pits and couldn’t get any fuel into the car. We had to make a few unscheduled pit stops to make up for that and went a lap down, putting an end to our competitiveness. We had good pace and a good chance of finishing up towards the front. It was great to have the support of Autogeek this weekend and I appreciate the all of the hard work put in by my guys.”