INDIANAPOLIS (March 19, 2019) – Race Preview
- Ed Carpenter Racing will compete one of the most highly-anticipated events of the year as Circuit of the Americas plays host to the INDYCAR Classic this weekend. The state-of-the-art motorsports facility, built in 2012, will feature an NTT IndyCar Series race for the first time on Sunday, March 24. ECR drivers Spencer Pigot and Ed Jones will pilot a pair of Autogeek Chevrolets at the 3.427-mile road course just outside of Austin, Texas.
- The annual Spring Training for the NTT IndyCar Series moved to COTA this year, providing two days of testing for all drivers in mid-February. The test was Jones’s first time navigating the 20-turn circuit in any race car. For Pigot, it was a chance to refamiliarize himself with the track as he is one of few drivers in the field who has race experience at COTA. He finished second in Race 1 of the Indy Pro 2000 doubleheader (formerly Pro Mazda) at the track in 2013.
- This weekend’s race will be the second of the NTT IndyCar Series season. The 2019 schedule kicked off two weeks ago with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, the home race for Orlando, Fla.-native Pigot. It was also the closest race to Jones’s U.S. residence of Miami. The street race marked the beginning of Pigot’s fourth season as an Indy car driver and fourth year with Ed Carpenter Racing. Jones, originally from Dubai, competed in his third Firestone Grand Prix and first race with ECR. A new partnership with Scuderia Corsa will see Jones in the No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Scuderia Corsa Chevrolet for the 12 road and street course events this year and the No. 64 at the Indianapolis 500.
- Pigot faced difficulties throughout the St. Pete race weekend, but came away with his strongest finish in a season-opener to date. Heading into qualifying, Pigot held the fourth-fastest lap of the weekend. He improved his lap time and turned his best lap of the weekend during his qualifying run, but it would only give him the 16th starting position. At the green flag, he was caught behind a slower car and dropped back several positions. He struggled with the car for the first half of the race, falling as low as 21st. It was after the midway point of the race when the No. 21 Autogeek Chevrolet came to Pigot and he was able to begin making up ground. By the conclusion of the race, the 25-year-old had fought his way back up to the 11th position.
- Jones is looking to rebound from a disappointing end to his first race of the year. He was forced to start 15th after red flags made track time all but nonexistent during his qualifying run. Jones passed three cars in the first lap alone and had raced his way up to 9th in only 25 laps. On Lap 26, he brushed the inside wall in Turn 9, which resulted in the No. 20 being sent nose-first into the outside wall. As a result of the contact, Jones sustained a small non-displaced fracture of the distal fourth metacarpal in his left ring finger. Immediately upon returning to Miami, he met with a hand surgeon for proper splinting and will be re-evaluated by INDYCAR Medical Director Dr. Geoffrey Billows at COTA. It is expected that the 24-year-old will resume his driving duties with no restrictions.
- When the Ed Carpenter Racing team arrives at COTA on Thursday, it will mark the team’s second time in Texas in as many weeks. Last Thursday, Pigot and team owner Ed Carpenter tested at the high-speed 1.5-mile oval of Texas Motor Speedway. It was Carpenter’s first time in the No. 20 since October of 2018. The 38-year-old will drive in the five oval events this year in what will be his 17th season of Indy car racing.
- The Nos. 20 and 21 will continue to carry the colors of car care superstore Autogeek.com at COTA. Over the last 15 years, Autogeek has risen to become one of the most reputable and trusted sources for automotive detailing products and accessories. Through detailing how-to guides and instructional videos, Autogeek provides a wealth of car care know-how for detailers, hobbyists and car care enthusiasts.
- On-track action at Circuit of the Americas will span from Friday, March 22 through Sunday, March 24, 2019. As the new INDYCAR Pass program through NBC Sport Gold continues, all practice and qualifying sessions will be streamed live within the platform. Saturday’s qualifications will also be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network, beginning at 3 p.m. ET. Coverage of Sunday’s 60-lap INDYCAR Classic will begin on NBCSN at 1 p.m. ET.
ED JONES, No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Scuderia Corsa Chevrolet: “We are hoping to come back stronger at COTA. St. Pete was a challenging weekend, but we kept working through things and made really good progress. The team worked very hard to get me comfortable with the car and I was very confident in it. It was unfortunate the way qualifying ended up and the crash was super frustrating, but we had really strong pace and the car was very good. If we continue working the way we did in St. Pete, I feel that we will have a solid weekend in COTA!”
SPENCER PIGOT, No. 21 Autogeek Chevrolet: “It is a really exciting weekend for the NTT IndyCar Series to be heading to one of the best tracks in the country. It’s our first time racing at Circuit of the Americas so there will be a lot of unknowns that we will have to figure out as quickly as possible. I expect the track will make for some great racing and hopefully we can have our Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet at the front!”