Florida Teenager Spencer Pigot Secures Pole at St. Petersburg
A thrilling 30-minute qualifying session for Round Three of the Cooper Tires Presents the USF2000 National Championship Powered by Mazda ended with 17-year-old MAZDASPEED Development driver Spencer Pigot turning a last-gasp lap at 1:13.955 (an average speed of 87.621 mph) to edge Colombian-born, Mexico City-based Juan Piedrahita by a scant 0.002 seconds.
Pigot, from Windermere, Fla., driving the #8 MAZDASPEED/Skip Barber Van Diemen for Andretti Autosport will start from the pole in the first of this weekend’s two races which will see the green flag at 5:20 pm ET tomorrow.
“It’s great to be on pole,” said Pigot, who earned a point for his effort, thus breaking the tie for second in the championship with Petri Suvanto and Zach Veach. “After practice we knew we still had a few more tenths to find and my guys were telling me you’re P3, a tenth of a second off. I kept on pushing and tried to put that fast lap together and was able to do so and get the pole, so I’ve got to thank my guys for the big improvement between practice and qualifying.”
Piedrahita had set the pace for most of the session, using the experience he gained on the unforgiving 1.8-mile street circuit last year in Star Mazda to excellent effect aboard JDC MotorSports’ #19 Petrosur/GFK Motors/Montpharma/Colombia es pasion/Red Line Oil Van Diemen.
The intensity of the competition was amply displayed with the top 10 qualifiers separated by a mere 0.599 seconds.
Pigot and Suvanto, in the #3 Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing entry, both topped the timing charts as the session unfolded, but it was Piedrahita who seemed to have the pole within his grasp… until Pigot’s last-ditch effort just as time expired.
“We had a really good day,” said Piedrahita. “JDC MotorSports did a great job. The car was pretty much perfect. For the two practice sessions, we were right near the top. My teammate also did a good job. We made a little change for qualifying, went out there and I gave what I had. At the end, Spencer had a good lap. Tomorrow we will be looking to grab some points and maybe victory.”
Suvanto had to be content with third on the grid, followed by returning veteran Tonis Kasemets, from Mundelein, Ill., in a Zetec-powered #5 Miller Milling/Pabst Racing Services Van Diemen, Zach Veach (#7 Team Zakosi Data Backup/Andretti Autosport), Wayne Boyd, who was fastest in the day’s first practice session aboard Belardi Auto Racing’s #4 DHL car and Sebring Race Two winner Luke Ellery (#85 Melbourne IT Solutions/JDC MotorSports), who had set the fastest time in the second practice session earlier in the afternoon. Incredibly, the 21-year-old Australian was a mere 0.324 adrift of Pigot’s fastest time.
AcceleRace Motorsports’ Ardie Greenamyer took pole honors in the National class aboard the #29 imagePro/Hi-Rise Equipment/Sabelt entry.