AVONDALE, AZ – This weekend’s Desert Diamond West Valley Casino Phoenix Grand Prix (9:30 p.m. ET/NBCSN/INDYCAR Radio Network) will be the third trip the Verizon IndyCar Series has made to the ISM Raceway since their long awaited return. For Spencer Pigot, he’s heading to Phoenix as a rookie.
See, Pigot didn’t have a full-time ride in the series the last two seasons. He contested on all the road/street course races and the Indianapolis 500. Even with the Indy Lights Series raced on the 1.022-mile oval, Pigot wasn’t in the series. He won the championship in 2015, but the series wasn’t racing at Phoenix then.
On top of that, Pigot hasn’t raced on a short oval in nearly three full years. That has him with a lot of ground to make up, especially with a brand new car for 2018.
“This will be my first time ever racing at Phoenix and it will be my first race on a short oval since Indy Lights in 2015, so there’s a lot to look forward to,” Pigot said ahead of this weekend’s race. “I really enjoyed the challenges of the track at the Open Test back in February, it’s extremely fast. It’s very important to be precise with the car because the racing line is very narrow. If you’re not in the right place it will cost a lot of lap time. We made good progress at the test on the Fuzzy’s Vodka car which we hope will put us in a good spot this weekend. I’ve spent a lot of time with ECR the past two season watching and studying everything about oval racing, so it will be a nice change to be actually driving in the race!”
Luckily, Pigot did have a full two days of testing on the racing surface back in February, which was hopefully enough to get him up to speed quickly this weekend. But, he does have a veteran at his disposal, as his boss and his teammate Ed Carpenter has plenty of racing experience in Phoenix.
“I am very excited to get my season started finally,” Carpenter said. “The team has done a very good job getting prepared for this year and I am confident that we are ready for this first oval race. Phoenix always presents a tough challenge for the teams, but we are heading there to go fight for a win!”
Carpenter, netted his best finish of the 2017 season last year at Phoenix, albeit with a great amount of perseverance. Only 17 laps into a two-hour practice session on Friday, a fuel leak was discovered on the No. 20. Without having a chance to run any laps in qualifying trim, Carpenter was forced to qualify conservatively and start the race 21st. Over the course of the 250-lap race Saturday night, Carpenter fought his way through the field to bring home a 7th place finish.
This will also be the first race that the two cars will share the same sponsorship. In the season opener at St. Pete, Jordan King had a new primary sponsor. This weekend, both cars will share Fuzzy’s as a primary sponsor. But, they will appear different than the twin dark green cars from previous seasons. The new black, white and chrome look for the No. 20 debuted with King in St. Petersburg and will continue throughout the season. Though it has been spotted in tests, Pigot’s No. 21 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet will make it’s race weekend debut in the new bright green, white, and gold livery. Fuzzy’s Vodka has been with ECR since the team’s inception in 2012.