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Pigot To Take Wheel For Carpenter In The Twisties

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, January 17 2017

Spencer Pigot will hit the roads for Ed Carpenter Racing in 2017.

By John Sturbin | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

Spencer Pigot has found his niche at Ed Carpenter Racing.

The 2015 Indy Lights champion, Pigot has retained his seat as road and street-course specialist in the No. 20 Chevrolet for the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season. After joining ECR partway through 2016 in the same role, Pigot will compete in non-oval events for the entirety of the schedule.

Pigot will drive all 11 road and street-course events alongside JR Hildebrand, fulltime driver of ECR’s No. 21 Chevrolet. Since 2014, the No. 20 has been split between team-owner/driver Ed Carpenter on the ovals and a second driver for the road and street races. Pigot is the first driver to retain the road and street course seat in the No. 20 for a second year.

Carpenter _ the lone owner/driver in the series _ will continue to wheel the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet at all oval races. 

“I’m very excited to be staying with Ed Carpenter Racing for the 2017 season,” Pigot said in a statement from team headquarters in Speedway, Ind. “It’s a great feeling to know that I have a secure ride for all of the road and street-course races so we can start preparing for the season now. I can’t thank everyone at ECR, P1 Management and Rising Star Racing enough for their help getting this deal done.”

Pigot, a 23-year-old from Orlando, Fla., graduated to the Verizon IndyCar Series last season after scoring six wins, four poles and 10 podium finishes for Juncos Racing en route to the Indy Lights title. That championship came with a guaranteed three-race IndyCar Series program, which Pigot ran in a Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda. Following the Indianapolis 500, Pigot transitioned to the Chevrolet-powered ECR team.

Pigot competed in the remaining seven road and street-course events for ECR, scoring two top -10 finishes along the way. In only his second event weekend in the No. 20, his ninth-place finish at Road America was the highest among all rookies. A career-best finish of seventh followed at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, where he also was the top-finishing ECR driver.

Pigot drove to the checkered flag in nine of 10 races his rookie year, a streak broken only at the season- finale when a mechanical issue sidelined him. Pigot worked on improving his qualifying attempts each weekend, gaining an average of six positions in every race he finished.

“I learned a lot in my rookie year and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to build on that experience,” Pigot said. “I know I have the team around me to fight at the front and that’s what we’ll be trying to do in 2017.”

Carpenter, meanwhile, is looking forward to sharing the No. 20 with his protege. “We’re happy to have Spencer back,” Carpenter said. ”It was a challenging situation for him to step into the team last year mid-season as a rookie.  We believe that Spencer has the potential to be a contender in this sport and we will continue to focus on maximizing that potential.  It’s great to have some offseason left to allow us to continue that development before the season kicks off.  We’re anticipating a strong sophomore campaign from Spencer.” 

As the winningest driver in the Mazda Road to Indy, Pigot earned four scholarships from Mazda to continue his career momentum towards the Verizon IndyCar Series. In five years, he won four championships and 24 races in USF2000, Pro Mazda and Indy Lights.

Pigot now is part of a very select group of young open-wheel drivers aligned with Rising Star Racing, an organization whose mission is to ensure the most deserving drivers get the opportunities they have earned by matching them with corporate sponsors. Pigot is represented by P1 Management, LLC, which worked with RSR to finalize the agreement with Ed Carpenter Racing.

“The announcement that Spencer is going to continue driving for Ed Carpenter Racing in the 2017 Verizon Indy Car Series is an exciting day for all of us at P1 Management and Rising Star Racing,” said Barry Pigot, managing member of P1 Management.  “Thanks to Art Wilmes, Drew Coomes, Ed Carpenter and Floyd Robinson, who have worked so hard to make this happen. P1 Management is proud to continue its major role in managing and securing funding for Spencer’s career as it has done since 2009.”

Pigot will begin lapping in the No. 20 for the first time this year when he joins Hildebrand for a test at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway on Feb. 7. Prior to climbing back into an Indy car, Pigot will compete in the Rolex 24 at Daytona sports car classic on Jan. 28-29 with Mazda Racing.

The 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season begins with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Fla., on March 12. The race will be broadcast live on ABC (noon ET), the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network, Sirius 212 and XM 209.

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A.J. Foyt Racing officially confirmed its Chevrolet engine partnership Tuesday for ABC Supply Racing in the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series.

“I am looking forward to what will be a new chapter for us that involves returning to an old friend in Chevrolet,” Team President Larry Foyt said in a statement from Waller, Texas. “There are a lot of changes happening within our team this offseason and I won’t minimize the challenges, but I see a lot of potential with our plan.”

Larry Foyt is a son of A.J. Foyt Jr., Indy car racing’s all-time leader in victories and first four-time winner

IndyCar team owner A.J. Foyt announced that his 2017 drivers – Carlos Munoz and Conor Daly – will drive Chevy-powered cars.

of the Indianapolis 500.

The team’s switch from Honda had been anticipated since Chip Ganassi Racing changed suppliers from Chevrolet to Honda in October.

The team has changed its driver lineup for 2017 during the offseason. Carlos Munoz of Colombia will drive the flagship No. 14 ABC Supply Chevrolet, while American Conor Daly will pilot the No. 4 ABC Supply Chevrolet. Both drivers recently celebrated their 25th birthdays and are younger than most of the series’ fulltime drivers. The team expects to conduct its first test in the ABC Supply Chevrolets at Sebring International Raceway in Florida later this month.

The last time the team competed with Chevrolet engines was during the latter part of 2005, when A.J. Foyt IV, Foyt’s grandson, drove the No. 14 ABC Supply car.

“We are pleased to welcome AJ Foyt Racing to the Chevrolet IndyCar program,” said Mark Kent, Director Chevrolet Motorsports Competition.  “Chevrolet and Foyt both have long histories in IndyCar racing, including prior opportunities to work together.  We look forward to renewing the partnership and a strong start to the 2017 season.”

The last time team-founder Foyt drove a Chevrolet-powered car at Indianapolis Motor Speedway was the Chevrolet Camaro he used to pace the field for the 100th anniversary Indianapolis 500 in 2011.

The elder Foyt has competed in Chevrolet-powered cars throughout his illustrious career in NASCAR, sports cars, Sprint Cars or Indy cars. In his final IndyCar Series race as a driver _ the 1992 Indianapolis 500 _ Foyt drove a Chevy-powered No. 14 to a ninth-place finish at age 57. In what was his eighth front row start, he qualified second at Indy in 1991 in a Chevy-powered car. That Indy 500 Diamond Jubilee Front Row included pole-winner Rick Mears and Foyt’s longtime rival, Mario Andretti.

“I’m glad to be back with Chevy,” Foyt said. “I’ve had a lot of success with them in the past and I’m looking forward to more success in the future.”

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Reigning Indianapolis 500 champion Alexander Rossi said receiving his miniature Borg-Warner Trophy in Detroit was different than other race-related experiences he’s experienced since winning the 100th running in May 2016.

For one, he gets to keep the memento known as “The Baby Borg.”

“The most memorable experience was seeing my face on the actual trophy. But you can’t take it home,” Rossi said last week at the annual Automotive News World Congress dinner at the Renaissance Center. The event was held in conjunction with the North American International Auto Show.

Rossi first saw his likeness on the actual trophy Dec. 7 during an unveiling at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum in Indianapolis. Rossi knows where the big trophy resides _ at IMS _ but he does not yet have a place to showcase the smaller version he received. However, he did receive advice from Andretti-Herta Autosport team-owners Michael Andretti and Bryan Herta.

Andretti keeps those he won with Dan Wheldon (2005), Dario Franchitti (2007) and Ryan Hunter-Reay (2014) in his office at team headquarters in Indianapolis. Herta has the one he won with Wheldon (2011) displayed at his home office in Valencia, Calif.

Andretti’s Verizon IndyCar Series team ranks second only to Team Penske in placing the most drivers in Victory Lane at the Indy 500. Roger Penske’s organization has won the race 16 times with 11 different drivers. Like Andretti, Lou Moore and Chip Ganassi also won the race with four different drivers.

“That makes me proud because it shows we’ve been doing a great job as a team,” Andretti said. “It’s not just been the driver.”

BorgWarner has presented a replica Indianapolis 500 trophy to each race-winner since Rick Mears after his 1988 victory.

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INDYCAR and Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, LLC, have announced a multi-year contract extension continuing their longtime partnership with Firestone as official tire supplier of the Verizon IndyCar Series. The announcement extends the tire brand’s involvement in open-wheel racing that dates to Ray Harroun’s Firestone-equipped Marmon Wasp winning the inaugural Indianapolis 500 in 1911.

Following discussion with Verizon IndyCar Series teams, INDYCAR and Firestone have added to the overall tire allotment at each 2017 event to increase the amount of on-track activity during practice sessions. Additionally, teams will be permitted to run one set of alternate (red-sidewall) Firestone Firehawk tires during Friday practice sessions at all road/street course events to better evaluate their capabilities for qualifying and the race.

“Firestone is part of the fabric of INDYCAR and its commitment to evolving performance, innovation and safety in the Verizon IndyCar Series has been remarkable,” Jay Frye, INDYCAR president of competition and operations, said in a statement. “The Firestone brand has been part of our sport for more than 100 years and continues to be an integral partner in the growth of INDYCAR on and off the racetrack.”

Firestone has been involved in racing competitions since the early days of the automobile, particularly at the Indianapolis 500. Alexander Rossi’s win at the 100th running of the Indy 500 last May was the 67th for Firestone _ more than all other tire manufacturers combined _ in the iconic race. Firestone, which returned to Indy car racing in 1995 following a 20-year hiatus, has been the sole supplier of Verizon IndyCar Series tires since 2000 and provides teams with a known, stable and reliable platform for the future of INDYCAR.

“For more than a century, the Firestone brand has utilized racing as the ideal stage to showcase the trusted dependability of our tires,” said Lisa Boggs, director of motorsports, Bridgestone Americas. “This partnership is integral to our marketing initiatives as it allows us to engage with fans via the unique, multi-faceted platform that the Verizon IndyCar Series provides, and we look forward to building upon the brand’s time-tested racing legacy.”

In addition to its contributions to on-track competition, Firestone is a key partner in the marketing and promotion of the Verizon IndyCar Series. The season-long activation for Firestone includes sponsorship of race events, on-site fan engagement via the INDYCAR Fan Village and a national advertising campaign that spans television, radio and print/digital media outlets.

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, January 17 2017
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