Spencer Pigot seems to have hit his stride in his sophomore year of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires. Despite facing a rash of talented newcomers, Pigot took both rounds of the series as the Mazda Road to Indy opened its season with the Verizon IndyCar Series at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
On the temporary circuit laid out on city streets and airport runways, the driver from nearby Orlando in the No. 7 Doug Mockett & Company/Rising Star Racing/Vitamin-DPro App/California Scents entry for Juncos Racing qualified comfortably on the pole on Saturday, then led throughout the 17-lap first race. The victory was especially sweet for Pigot, 20, coming in his home state and on a track where he had previously won three times in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.
Californian teammate Kyle Kaiser secured a maximum points haul for Juncos Racing in the Team Championship by finishing second, some 2.6892s behind Pigot following a 17-lap race that was interrupted by a couple of brief full-course cautions. The race, which began a few minutes before 7:00 p.m., had been delayed from earlier in the afternoon by a severe storm warning.
Kaiser, who started third, pulled off an impressive move at the first corner, ducking underneath front row qualifier Scott Hargrove (Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing), then sneaking around the outside of the Canadian in Turn Two. Once into second place, Kaiser drove an exemplary race to maintain that position to the checkered flag.
Hargrove, last year’s USF2000 champion, remained glued to Kaiser’s rear wing but was never able to find a way past. Brazilian Pipo Derani (Team Pelfrey) also was part of the battle for second place before slipping back a little over the closing laps.
In the second race, without the threat of violent weather, Pigot again turned in a dominating performance. Starting on pole again, he extended his lead with each lap, leaving the fight of the race to the four cars just behind him.
Kaiser worked hard to maintain contact with Pigot, as Hargrove, Derani and Shelby Blackstock (Andretti Autosport) battled for the final podium spot, with Derani getting around Hargrove for third position on the second lap.
Pigot leads the championship chase by a 15-point margin over Kaiser as the championship heads next to Barber Motorsports Park for two races that will support the Verizon IndyCar Series and the entire Mazda Road to Indy ladder system on April 26-27.