Carpenter says he always wanted to hire Pigot

Ed Carpenter says he’s impressed with how Indy Lights champion Spencer Pigot performed in his first weekend with the team, and that it was always his ambition to find him a ride.

Carpenter says he always wanted to hire Pigot
Spencer Pigot, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet, Ed Carpenter
Spencer Pigot, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
Spencer Pigot, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
Ed Carpenter
Spencer Pigot, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
Spencer Pigot, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
Spencer Pigot, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
Spencer Pigot, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
Spencer Pigot, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
Spencer Pigot, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet
Spencer Pigot, Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet pit action

Pigot has signed to drive the #20 Ed Carpenter Racing-Chevrolet for all the road and street courses left on the 2016 IndyCar calendar, and the team owner says he would like to have hired him earlier.

Carpenter told Motorsport.com: “We had wanted to have Spencer onboard for all the road and street races this year, but we just didn’t have all the pieces in place to run the #20 car full-time. But we kept in touch and we knew his management team [Rising Star Management] was trying to put a deal together that went beyond his agreement with Rahal. So it was good for both of us.”

Pigot had made just three IndyCar starts – St. Petersburg, Indianapolis road course and the Indy 500, all with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing-Honda – prior to his sign-up with ECR. Those guaranteed starts were part of his prize for winning the Lights championship last year.

However, because none of the Mazda Road To Indy series race at Belle Isle, Pigot had no prior experience of the 2.36-mile course in Detroit, and in that context, Carpenter was impressed with his new hire’s ECR debut.

“I thought Spencer did well,” said Carpenter. “He was stepping into a totally new situation – new team, new track… and a very demanding track, too. With it being concrete and how bumpy it is, and then it’s a double-header weekend with an odd schedule, there’s not really much time to get comfortable or work on the car setup. There was one practice session and then he was into the first qualifying session!”

Pressure came from Pigot, not the team

Carpenter says Pigot was visibly frustrated with his own performance in first qualifying, where he was 2.3sec off the pace set by Q1 Group 1 leader Scott Dixon, but said the team had gone out of its way to not exert pressure on him.

Said Carpenter: “I told Spencer, ‘Hey, let’s not worry about who we’re beating, or being beaten by, let’s just focus on where we need to improve in terms of technique, get comfortable with the track, and we’ll do our best to make the car more comfortable through the weekend.’

“He had far higher expectations of himself than we imposed on him. That’s a good thing obviously, but it wasn’t my expectation for him to go out the first weekend and be in the top half of the field. So I thought he did a good job, particularly in the second race.”

Although Pigot eventually stopped with a broken suspension toe-link after side-swiping a wall, he had been running ninth in Race 2.

“He hit the wall on the exit of Turn 4, I think,” said Carpenter, “but we had stayed out and were due to pit in six or seven laps. So everyone around him was on newer tires, and he was racing hard and doing a good job.

“It’s not like he was the only driver to make a mistake this weekend. It’s an easy place to do it!”

Carpenter does have high hopes that Pigot will show major improvements in the remaining road and street courses, stating: “I think Detroit was always going to be the hardest weekend for him, when you look at how he had no history with us or the track.

“Looking toward the rest of the year, we’re going to be in a lot better position to get some testing in and get us comfortable with him, and him with us. We’re going to test at Road America before that race, and that will help. He knows Toronto, Mid-Ohio and so on. He doesn’t know Watkins Glen, but a lot of the other guys won’t know it, either.

“I think we’re going to see some good performance from Spencer.”

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