Pigot wins at VIR to take points battle down to the wire
Spencer Pigot was in a class by himself during today's 13th round of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda at Virginia International Raceway. Pigot, 18, from Orlando, Fla., was fastest in every practice session, qualified squarely on the pole and extended his lead throughout the 14-lap race – exactly what he needed to do in his chase of teammate and championship rival Matthew Brabham, who entered the weekend with a 41-point advantage. Pigot took the checkered flag a full 16.047 seconds clear of his closest challenger for his seventh victory and the largest winning margin this year.
With Pigot off in the distance, all eyes instead were on a tremendous battle for second place between Neil Alberico and Wayne Boyd during the caution-free race. Alberico, driving for JDC MotorSports, grasped the position after a magnificent getaway from fifth on the grid and the benefit of an incident at the first corner involving Scott Anderson (#14 MAZDASPEED Motorsports Development, Neuropathy Testing Center, Laser Nail Centers/Belardi Auto Racing), who had qualified third. Boyd, who started sixth, followed suit and the duo waged a race-long battle as both drivers claimed their first podium finishes of 2012. Boyd's podium comes in only his third USF2000 start this season. He finished third in last year's standings.
Brabham, who found himself in fifth on Lap One after starting second, became embroiled in a tense battle with Matthew Di Leo (#56 Res Precast/MDL Racing) and Scott Hargrove (#38 Analytic Systems, Race Energy, Skip Barber Racing School, Red Line Oil/JDC MotorSports). The trio exchanged places on numerous occasions before Brabham was able to climb up to fourth place on Lap 12.
Brabham's championship lead has been trimmed from 41 points to 27 with just one race remaining, so the $350,000 scholarship prize from Mazda to move up to Star Mazda, the next step on the Mazda Road to Indy, in 2013 is still up for grabs. Pigot will start tomorrow's season finale on the pole by virtue of setting fastest lap today, while Brabham will start seventh in the 26-car grid.
Hargrove, who scored his first career USF2000 podium finish in the last race at Baltimore, continued his strong form and crossed the line in fifth ahead of Shelby Blackstock (#8 Starstruck/Andretti Autosport), who moved up impressively from ninth on the opening lap, Di Leo, Trent Hindman (#3 Premier Woodcraft, Zydro+, DFL Construction, RaceLite Protection, Skip Barber Racing School, Sparco/Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing) and Thomas McGregor (#7 Dairy Queen, Exclusive Management/Andretti Autosport).
The National class seasonal honors also will not be settled until tomorrow following a sixth win of the season for Norwegian Henrik Furuseth (#32 Palfinger, Akrene Mek Verksted/Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing), who triumphed comfortably over title rival RC Enerson (#10 Patriot Bank/ZSports Midwest with Team E Racing). Furuseth's win was made all the more impressive after he was relegated to use another FE car this weekend instead of his more familiar #32 entry.