After winning both the driver and team championships in 2012, Team Pelfrey has endured a disappointing first half-season of 2013 in the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires, highlighted by a pair of second-place finishes for Spencer Pigot. The 19-year-old Pro Mazda rookie then suffered what he described as one of the worst weekends of his career just one week ago on the streets of Toronto but bounced back in fine style today by scoring his first victory in Round Nine at the fast and challenging Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
Pigot, who qualified second, fought his way past polesitter Shelby Blackstock at Turn Eight on lap two and managed to edge out a slight margin over the two battling Andretti Autosport entries of Blackstock and runaway series points leader Matthew Brabham.
On lap four, however, Pigot's advantage was erased when Colombian Juan Piedrahita crashed his JDC MotorSports entry heavily into the tires at Turn Three which caused a lengthy full-course caution. Piedrahita, thankfully, was not seriously injured in the accident and has been taken to a Bowmanville hospital for further precautionary tests.
The field was obliged to run behind the safety car for 10 laps while the car was removed and the tire barrier repaired. When the race was restarted with around five minutes remaining, all of the top three contenders felt they had a legitimate shot at the victory.
Pigot continued to lead the way, but a slight mistake by Blackstock on lap 16 enabled Brabham to slip past into second place and close onto Pigot's tail. Uncharacteristically, however, Brabham, too over-stepped the limit at Turn Three next time around, running wide and allowing Blackstock to regain second position.
The final couple of laps saw all three jockeying for position, frequently running side-by-side, but it was Pigot who held on for the victory by just 0.118 second ahead of Blackstock at the checkered flag. Brabham was a scant 0.081 second behind in third.
“It was a big team effort this weekend. We were struggling a little bit in practice and made quite a lot of changes overnight," related Pigot. "It is great for me and it's great for the team. To come back and get the win is great for the whole team.
"After the restart I was able to get a little bit of a jump but I couldn't quite break the draft and I made a little mistake on the last lap and Shelby and I were side by side. In fact, I think he was a little bit ahead of me on the back straightaway and I was just able to hold the inside through Turn Eight. It was great racing. Shelby and I were joking around that it was such a turnaround from last weekend for both of us. To be out fighting for the win was great and hopefully we can do it again tomorrow.”
Scott Anderson finished only a second or so farther in arrears in fourth for Juncos Racing, while Brazilian Nicolas Costa (Team Pelfrey) found a way past Diego Ferreira, in a second Juncos Racing entry, for fifth in the closing stages.
Race 2 will take place Sunday afternoon with Pigot on pole and Blackstock alongside. Costa will line up third with Piedrahita, Ferreira and Brabham rounding out the top six.