|A happy Spencer Pigot|
An assured victory by Spencer Pigot in today's Indy Lights Grand Prix Presented by Cooper Tires at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca ensured that the outcome of this year's Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires title-chase will remain undecided until tomorrow afternoon's 16th and final race.
Pigot, who won the 2014 Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, took the lead for Juncos Racing on Lap 3 after polesitter Max Chilton (Carlin) clipped the tire stack at the apex of the Corkscrew.
Pigot, 21, from Orlando, Fla., led the remainder of the 30-lap race to record his series leading fifth victory of the season and turn a six-point deficit into an eight-point advantage over erstwhile championship leader Jack Harvey, who finished a distant fifth for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with Curb-Agajanian.
Kyle Kaiser, from Santa Clara, Calif., finished second in front of his home crowd, shadowing Juncos Racing teammate Pigot virtually from start to finish, while Englishman Ed Jones (Carlin) kept his own championship aspirations alive after finishing third.
Jones' countryman and teammate, Chilton, set off confidently in the lead after snaring his second pole of the season, but his fate was sealed by a minor miscue when he clipped the mound of tires marking the apex of the famed Corkscrew turn. The impact damaged a valve stem on the left-rear tire, forcing Chilton to head for the pit lane. He rejoined at the back of the field and turned a series of fast laps but could only recover to 11th by the finish.
Kaiser, who qualified second, slid a little wide at the apex of Turn Two on the opening lap which allowed Pigot to slip through into second place. Kaiser regained the position following Chilton's error to secure his best Indy Lights finish.
|Jones came home third|
Jones ran third, just a second or so behind the two leaders, and remained under pressure for the entire race from Sean Rayhall (8Star Motorsports), who once again impressed as he posted the fastest lap of the race en route to a fourth-place finish.
Felix Serralles made a fine start for Belardi Auto Racing, jumping from seventh to fourth in the early stages before losing a position to Rayhall. The Milwaukee race winner looked set for fifth until a stuck throttle caused him to spear off the road in Turn Six with just four laps remaining. Serralles' misfortune allowed Harvey to claim fifth, despite struggling with the balance of his Racing Steps Foundation Dallara-Mazda. There was a modicum of solace for the Schmidt Peterson team, which clinched its second successive Team Championship with one race remaining.
In the drivers' standings, Pigot now holds an eight-point lead over Harvey, 326-318, heading into tomorrow's 16th and final race of the season, which will start at 2:50 p.m. PDT. Jones lies a further 13 points adrift.
Spencer Pigot (#Mazda/Doug Mockett & Company/Rising Star Racing/The Stutz/BAD/OMP-Juncos Racing: The guys at Juncos Racing gave me a great car again this weekend: a one-two finish is our best of the season. I just kept my head down and tried to keep Kyle behind me. He's been quick all weekend, as he always is. He put a lot of pressure on me. But there's another day tomorrow and these races can go any way, as we've seen all season. The first goal tomorrow will be to get through the first corner. We've got good pace against the other guys in the championship so it will be nice knowing I don't have to win the race to win the championship. I will get the lead if I can but I will do what I've done all season: focus forward, put in good laps and see what happens.
Result (Penultimate Round)
|1||12||3||Spencer Pigot (R)||Orlando FL||Juncos Racing||30||–.—-||–.—-|
|2||18||2||Kyle Kaiser (R)||Santa Clara CA||Juncos Racing||30||1.1984||1.1984|
|3||11||4||Ed Jones (R)||Dubai UAE||Carlin||30||2.9021||1.7037|
|4||8||6||Sean Rayhall (R)||Winston GA||8Star Motorsports||30||3.4971||0.5950|
|5||42||5||Jack Harvey||Lincoln England||Schmidt Peterson Motorsports||30||26.6463||23.1492|
|6||7||8||RC Enerson (R)||New Port Richey FL||Schmidt Peterson Motorsports||30||27.2459||0.5996|
|7||5||10||Juan Piedrahita||Bogota Colombia||Belardi Auto Racing||30||31.9720||4.7261|
|8||51||9||Shelby Blackstock (R)||Nashville TN||Andretti Autosport||30||36.8804||4.9084|
|9||77||11||Scott Anderson||Fort Collins CO||Schmidt Peterson Motorsports||30||44.4206||7.5402|
|10||71||12||Ethan Ringel (R)||Mineola NY||Schmidt Peterson Motorsports||30||45.1451||0.7245|
|11||14||1||Max Chilton (R)||Reigate England||Carlin||30||1:03.6882||18.5431|
|12||21||13||Heamin Choi (R)||Busan Korea||Schmidt Peterson Motorsports||30||1:13.4430||9.7548|
|13||4||7||Felix Serralles (R)||Ponce Puerto Rico||Belardi Auto Racing||26||4 laps||4 laps|