QUALIFICATIONS COMPLETED FOR FIRST OVAL RACE OF 2018 VERIZON INDYCAR SERIES SEASON
Spencer Pigot Will Start 15th in Tomorrow Night’s Phoenix Grand Prix; Team Owner Ed Carpenter Qualifies 18th
– The starting field has been set for the first oval race of the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season, the Desert Diamond West Valley Casino Phoenix Grand Prix. Team owner Ed Carpenter and full-time driver Spencer Pigot greatly improved their speeds from this afternoon’s practice session to qualifying and will have one more hour of practice tonight to perfect the set ups of their Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolets. Carpenter will start 18th tomorrow night’s 250-lap race at ISM Raceway while Pigot will roll off 15th.
– The opening practice session for the second race of the season took place during windy conditions with temperatures in excess of 90 degrees. Both Pigot and Carpenter struggled to get clear track to do a proper qualification simulation and neither felt their top speeds were indicative of they quality of cars they had. Pigot’s fast lap of 177.609 miles per hour had him 16th overall following the one hour practice session while Carpenter was 20th with a quick lap of 175.809 miles per hour.
– The starting field for tomorrow night’s Phoenix Grand Prix was set by the average time of each driver’s two-lap run. In a new rule for 2018, qualification order for oval events is set in reverse order of entrant points. With the only race thus far being the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Carpenter was third out to qualify while Pigot rolled off eighth.
– Though Carpenter’s black No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet became loose in Turn 1 on his first qualifying lap, his two-lap average was still 181.244 miles per hour and he has the 18th starting position in tomorrow night’s race. Pigot’s average speed over qualifying was 182.015 miles per hour and he will start the No. 21 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet from 15th in his first race at ISM Raceway.
– The Phoenix Grand Prix will mark the beginning of Carpenter’s 16th season of Indy car competition. Though he has now shifted his driving focus exclusively to oval events, Carpenter remains the only individual in the Verizon IndyCar Series who handles both the responsibility of driving the race car and owning his own team. Carpenter earned his best finish of 2017 at ISM Raceway. Though he was forced to qualify conservatively in the 21st position, he raced his way through the field to a 7th place finish.
– After sharing the No. 20 with Carpenter the past two seasons, Pigot has been elevated to ECR’s full-time driver of the No. 21 for the 2018 season. ISM Raceway is a new track for Pigot, who has spent the majority of his Indy car career to date competing on road and street courses. Though Phoenix will be his first short-oval event in an Indy car, he has raced in the previous two Indianapolis 500s.
– The final practice session will be streamed live on IndyCar.com from 8-9 p.m. local. The Desert Diamond West Valley Casino Grand Prix will take place tomorrow evening, Saturday, April 7. The 250-lap race will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network with coverage beginning at 9 p.m. ET (6 p.m. local). The green flag is scheduled to drop at 9:40 p.m. ET (6:40 p.m. local).
ED CARPENTER, No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet:“It was tough out there, for sure! The car had been feeling pretty good, I wasn’t quite expecting to get that loose. I had a pretty big wiggle in Turn 1 on my first lap which probably didn’t help my confidence for the second lap. It’s qualifying though, you just have to adjust the best you can. It’s going to be tough tomorrow night, but I know we’ll be up for the challenge.”
SPENCER PIGOT, No. 21 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet: “We’re still struggling a little bit to find the balance we had at the end of the test in February, but we made good improvements in qualifying. However, we’re still looking for more for both Fuzzy’s Vodka cars for tomorrow. It’s going to be a totally different animal during the race, with traffic and long stints on the tires. Phoenix is definitely a new challenge for me but it’s an exciting one!”
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