Spencer Pigot and Scott Hargrove take their Pro Mazda title fight to Milwaukee.
Two rungs of the Mazda Road to Indy ladder hit one of the few oval venues on the circuit this weekend, the famed Milwaukee Mile at the Wisconisn State Fairgrounds in West Allis. Both the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires and the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires will entertain fans before the Verizon IndyCar Series takes to the track. With only three races remaining in each, every point matters.
The top two protagonists for the Pro Mazda Championship, Spencer Pigot and Scott Hargrove, are separated by just 14 points. With a MAZDASPEED Scholarship on offer to the champion to facilitate graduation to Indy Lights in 2015 and a state-of-the-art Dallara IL-15 on deck, there is a great deal at stake.
Pigot, 20, from Orlando, Fla., currently leads the way for Juncos Racing on the strength of five wins during his sophomore Pro Mazda campaign. He finished a strong third at Milwaukee last year and previously earned a top-six finish when the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda visited “The Mile” in 2011.
Rookie Hargrove, 19, from Vancouver, B.C., Canada, has not previously raced at Milwaukee but impressed on the shorter Lucas Oil Raceway oval in May when he finished second for Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing, one place ahead of Pigot. Hargrove already has three race wins to his credit this year, plus five more podium finishes.
The battle for third place in the championship standings is equally intense. Neil Alberico (Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing), who finished a close second to teammate Hargrove in last year’s USF2000 title chase, and Shelby Blackstock (Andretti Autosport) are currently separated by just 12 points, while Garett Grist (Andretti Autosport), Kyle Kaiser (Juncos Racing) and Nicolas Costa (Team Pelfrey) lie within 23 points of a top-three placing.
Hargrove currently holds a 59-point lead over Alberico for BBS Rookie of the Year honors with Grist lying in third, 73 points in arrears. In the team championship, Juncos Racing and Cape Motorsports are neck and neck with an eight-point spread separating the two teams.
In Indy Lights, six drivers hold a mathematical chance of winning the championship, but in all probability the winner will come from among the current top three – Gabby Chaves, Jack Harvey and Zach Veach – who are separated by just 24 points going into Sunday’s final oval race of the season. Each of them will be anxious to eke out a little breathing space prior to the title-deciding doubleheader one week later at the Sonoma Raceway road course in Northern California.
Colombian-American Chaves currently leads the way following an impressive sophomore Indy Lights season with Belardi Auto Racing’s Marca Colombia/Coldeportes entry. The 21-year-old from Miami, Fla., has won four times – including both previous oval races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Pocono Raceway – and holds an 18-point advantage, 431-413, over Harvey, with Veach just six markers further in arrears.
Prior to the pair of races two weeks ago at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, it seemed as though Chaves and Veach, a two-time winner this season, would be fighting it out for the title. Except no one told Harvey, a 21-year-old rookie, who swept both races in the Racing Steps Foundation car to vault himself into the thick of the battle.
With his two wins and six additional podiums, Harvey currently holds an 88-point advantage in the Rookie of the Year standings over Andretti Autosport’s Matthew Brabham and a 101-point spread over teammate Luiz Razia – both race winners this year.
The green flag for the Milwaukee 100 will fly at 11:55 a.m. on Sunday, August 17.