Second-year Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda contender Spencer Pigot used his experience to excellent effect this morning as he took his second USF2000 St. Petersburg Grand Prix Presented by Allied Building Products race win in as many days.
Pigot, 18, from Orlando, Fla., pulled off a brave outside maneuver at Turn One on the opening lap to edge ahead of pole-sitting Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing teammate Matthew Brabham and, later, had to muster all of his defensive capabilities to keep Brabham behind him when the race resumed following a full-course caution. The interruption had been caused by a three-car melee in Turn Three involving Scott Hargrove (JDC MotorSports), Luigi Biangardi (ArmsUp Motorsports) and Neil Alberico (JDC MotorSports), who became entangled with a lapped car while at the same time being embroiled in a terrific fight for third place.
“It was another really close race between Matt [Brabham] and I on the first lap of the race," said Pigot. "I was able to get by him at the start, which was really important because it is so difficult to pass here. We had a brief battle at the restart but I was able to hold him off and it was pretty smooth sailing from then on. I have to thank everyone at Cape Motorsports and all of my sponsors, and I really have to say a big thanks to Cooper Tires. After the contact with Matt where he lost part of his front wing, I had a gash in my tire and it held up till the finish.”
Pigot kept toward the right-hand side of the race track when the green flags waved for a final five-lap dash to the checkers, but Brabham, 18, from Boca Raton, Fla., was determined to take the inside line for the ensuing right-handed Turn One. Brabham did indeed make the move and briefly held the advantage, only to slide wide at the apex of the corner which allowed Pigot to regain the lead.
Brabham consequently fell back from his sparring partner after losing part of his front wing and had to spend the remainder of the race fending off a determined challenge from Matthew Di Leo, who again drove impressively for his small, family-run MDL Racing team. Di Leo, 17, from Innisfil, Ont., Canada, rebounded well from an accident on the final lap yesterday (when he had been dicing for third with Alberico) to claim his first podium finish of the season.
Trent Hindman, 16, from Wayside, N.J., finished fourth in a third Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Van Diemen-Mazda, narrowly ahead of Belardi Auto Racing pair Roman Lagudi, 17, from Las Vegas, Nev., and last year's National Class champion Luca Forgeois, 16, from New York, N.Y., who finally overcame a series of mechanical gremlins to secure a well-deserved sixth. The two Andretti Autosport entries, driven by Thomas McGregor, from Saskatoon, Sask., Canada, and Shelby Blackstock, from Nashville, Tenn., also finished among a long train of cars, as did Jason Wolfe (JAY Motorsports), from Mount Vernon, Ohio, and Scott Anderson (Belardi Auto Racing), from Fort Collins, Colo., who battled back well after a disappointing start to the weekend.
National Class honors once again were claimed by RC Enerson. The 15-year-old from nearby New Port Richey, Fla., driving for ZSports Midwest with Team E Racing, rebounded well after losing several positions at the start.
Mark Eaton (Robinson Motor Sports), from Melbourne, Fla., finished second in the class, followed by the similar Formula Enterprises cars of Patrick Gallagher (JAY Motorsports), from Thornville, Ohio) and Scott Rettich (Alliance Autosport), from Camden, Ohio.
Contingency awards included the Tilton Hard Charger Award, for the driver who gained the most positions during the race, which was claimed by Dalton Kellett (#5 K-Line Insulators USA Inc./Pabst Racing Services), from Stouffville, Ont., Canada, who charged from 33rd on the grid to 14th; the PFC Awards for the winning car owners, which were issued to Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing in the Championship Class and ZSports Midwest in the National class; and the Staubli Award, a random finisher award, which was presented to Jason Wolfe.
Pigot leaves St. Petersburg with a two-point advantage over Brabham in the Championship class. Two points also separate the National Class chase with Enerson ahead of Rettich.