By: Tanner Watkins
July 22, 2019 | 1:00 PM
Some statistics in racing simply don’t make sense, but at the moment, Ed Carpenter Racing won’t ask any questions. Spencer Pigot’s fifth-place finish at Iowa Speedway on Saturday night (and Sunday morning) is a shot in the arm that they will put to good use over the last five races in 2019.
What isn’t surprising is that one of ECR’s cars finished up front in an NTT IndyCar Series race at Iowa. Since the team’s inception in 2012, a driver carrying the ECR brand has finished inside the first ten positions each year.
That includes runner-up finishes by J.R. Hildebrand (2017) and Spencer Pigot (2018) as well as Josef Newgarden’s beatdown victory in 2016 that saw him lead 282 laps – even more than his impressive 245 this past weekend.
What is surprising, though, is how Pigot battled to a top-five for a second straight year. In his lone pair of starts at Iowa, Pigot has started 18th (2018) and 19th (2019) and has yet to lead a lap. With that being said, the California native finished each of the scheduled 600 laps over the past two years and has an average finish of 3.5.
Pigot’s fifth-place finish matches Ed Carpenter Racing’s season-best result in 2019 – another top-five run at the INDYCAR Grand Prix at Indianapolis in May, by Pigot.
Even with the cooling conditions after rain showers delayed the race start for hours, Pigot insisted that Saturday night’s race was as challenging as ever.
“It was a tough race, as always. With it cooling down, it was tougher to make passes as everyone had a little bit more grip,” said Pigot. “It just speaks to how well the car was handling tonight. The No. 21 Autogeek Chevrolet was really good, I can’t thank the guys enough from rebounding from qualifying.
“At times, we were really strong. That last restart, I couldn’t get up to speed as quick as some of the guys. We’ll have to see where we can improve there, but overall, a good recovery. I am very happy to get back into the top five.”
For team boss Ed Carpenter, Iowa was less kind as the No. 20 Chevrolet finished 19th. Carpenter was running as high as fifth by Lap 191, but a spin (resulting in wall contact) on Lap 264 ended the Indianapolis native’s race just before the final dash to the finish.
“I am really disappointed,” Carpenter said post-race. “The No. 20 Autogeek Chevrolet was strong tonight. Even though we started so far back, we made our way through the field more than once. To have our race end this way is very frustrating. A job well done by Spencer Pigot for getting ECR another top-five at Iowa.”
Currently, Pigot is 13th in the NTT IndyCar Series championship as the only full-time driver for ECR. He is sitting one spot better than where the No. 21 car finished the season in 2018.
In the season’s home stretch, Pigot will certainly look to build on this effort and replicate performances at Gateway (6th) and Portland (4th) that helped end the season strong in 2018.
Header image by Stephen King/INDYCAR.