Another Podium for Pigot as Rising Star Racing Delivers at Long Beach
 April 20, 2015| 
  • Team News

It was another positive outing for Rising Star Racing this weekend as Indy Lights driver Spencer Pigot took home a podium result and Josef Newgarden finished seventh in the Verizon IndyCar Series race through the streets of Long Beach, California.  

Pigot delivered an outstanding drive in the morning’s Indy Lights race to take his third consecutive podium of the season with a runner-up finish. It marks his best result of the year as the rookie Indy Lights driver made just his third start in the new IL-15 after two third place results at St. Pete two weeks ago.

The result was a well-earned one, as Pigot started the race on the front row after having qualified the No. 12 Mazda/Doug Mockett & Company/Rising Star Racing/The Stutz/BAD/OMP entry second on the grid. But it was not clear sailing to the finish for the 23-year old driver who was born in nearby Pasadena.

When the Indy Lights field funneled into Turn 1 at the start, the third place car made contact with the leader. The contact created chaos through the corner as Pigot ran in second on the outside. Crossed up and checked up, Pigot managed to narrowly avoid getting collected in the crash, but fell to fifth in line as a result of the incident.

“It was looking good at the start - I was side by side with Jack (Harvey) going into Turn 1 and I braked pretty late and suddenly I saw him flying by so I thought he must have braked really, really deep but then I saw Kyle (Kaiser) on the back of him so I knew there had been some contact there. It kind of forced me out wide and I didn’t have anywhere to go. A few guys got by and I ended up fifth.”

But Pigot wasted no time in making a charge forward and made several decisive moves as he made his way up to the second position. He closed in on the race leader and the two cars showed their strengths on different parts of the circuit which created quite the battle in the final laps. The 2015 Indy Lights Series utilizes a push-to-pass feature which adds another 50 horsepower for a limited time and while Pigot was using his, the race leader Ed Jones was also using his each time Pigot got close.

“I think I’m still getting used to (the push to pass),” said Pigot. “It’s a new tool for us to use so it’s something else for us to think about. I think I was a little impatient a few times using it too early.  Overall the car felt really good. The only place I could really get a good run was out of Turn 8 and into Turn 9 so that’s where I made my passes. I just tried to square up the entry and get down to power early and hit the (push to pass) button as soon as I got out of the corner which seemed to help.”

Pigot ultimately took second at the checkered flag after a fraught battle through the streets of Long Beach.

“I think we showed that we had the pace today, we were catching them,” added Pigot. “I think the pace is there we just maybe need a bit of a break on the start next time. It’s a good result to come back to second. It’s great to be here in Long Beach, a race I’ve always wanted to race. I have a lot of friends and family supporters here. Obviously Mazda, Mockett, Cooper Tires, Stutz, Rising Star Racing and California Scents who are local here – so a big thank you to all of them.”

After a promising race-morning warm up that saw him set the pace, Newgarden opened the 80-lap IndyCar race from sixth on the grid and ran a trouble-free race. The event ran at a flat-out pace with just one quick caution for debris in the beginning stages.

“It was definitely a decent result,” said Newgarden. “Our guys have been working hard and it’s nice to get some consistent results over the last couple of races. Obviously we wanted to be higher. I tried to get by Montoya after that first stop and got into the rubber on the outside of Turn 10. I picked up a lot of debris on the tires and it took me a long time to clean it up. I lost a lot of time to the leader and fell into the clutches of (Sebastien) Bourdais and (Tony) Kanaan and never got back away from them. We had a little bit of trouble in the pit stop as we had to wait for Graham (Rahal) and after that we lost out to Tony and Sebastian. We came home seventh, so it’s disappointing that we didn’t reach our potential. We are pushing hard at CFH Racing. We’ve got a really strong group and we’re close to knocking on the door. We will come back for the next round in Barber and try and one up these guys!”

The result sees Newgarden sit eighth in the Verizon IndyCar Series standings.

Rising Star Racing will be back in action next weekend when the Verizon IndyCar Series travels to Barber Motorsports Park.

Two rungs of the Mazda Road to Indy,  Mazda Pro Series and Indy Lights, as well as all three Rising Star Racing drivers will be in action on the Alabama circuit. The well-manicured natural terrain road circuit will see Rising Star Racing’s Neil Alberico return to race duty in Pro Mazda action as he looks to grow his lead in the championship standings.

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