Last weekend, I wrote that Spencer Pigot had a pressure packed race ahead of him at the Iowa Speedway. Entering the Iowa Corn 300, Pigot sat 15th in the Verizon IndyCar Series points standings. Last year, JR Hildebrand had actually had better finishes at that point of the year compared to where Pigot is at now and the latter was let go at seasons end. Plus, in 2016, Josef Newgarden led 282 of 300 laps at Iowa en route to a dominating win. He did so with a broken clavicle. Last year, Hildebrand came home runner-up.
While it was a completely different car with a completely new aero package, past stats could have been Pigot’s detriment at Iowa. While I think Pigot can be a big star in this series one day, unfortunately with the way racing works now, if you don’t perform in the limited time that you’re given, you immediately head towards the sidelines.
Drivers aren’t given opportunities to grow in a ride anymore. That’s a shame too. Just ask Sage Karam or Conor Daly. Both had flashes of brilliance and bright futures ahead only to be given just one full season to show what they can do. This is Pigot’s first full season at the helm with Ed Carpenter Racing and while he hasn’t been bad he also hasn’t been challenging for wins either.
With how the team fared at Iowa over the past few years, that added more pressure to Pigot.
Now that the weekend has passed though, Pigot showed that the pressure didn’t affect him one bit. He practiced in the top six on Saturday morning but qualified a disappointing 18th. Talk about adding more pressure. That didn’t bother him as he charged hard for a career best second place run on Sunday afternoon. That comes after a season best at the time, eighth place run the race prior at Road America.
In fact, since the start of June, Pigot has finished in the top 11 in four of the last five races. That has earned him more points than drivers like Marco Andretti, Sebastien Bourdais, Tony Kanaan and a whole host of others. His 110 points accumulated since June are only five less than Will Power and only 14 less than Simon Pagenaud. That says he’s right there with two of the three Penske drivers.
That also says a lot about how quickly he’s adjusted and learned. It tells us about his character because he’s doing so with a ton of weight on his shoulders. He has a rookie teammate with zero prior open wheel experience in America on road/street courses and trying to learn a new car with the pressure of not having a secured future and he’s out here balling out.
If ECR can give Pigot the same amount of time that Newgarden was given with Sarah Fisher and Carpenter, then the series could have another star like Newgarden on their hands. From 2012 through 2014, Newgarden made 51 starts but had zero wins and just 14 top 10 finishes. He led 21 total laps in that time frame too.
In just 34 starts in INDYCAR and not even through a full season yet, Pigot has eight top 10’s already. Imagine where he can be if given the proper time. He’s already showing us how skillful he is.