Newgarden, Pigot and Alberico all suffer bad luck at Indy.
Just two weeks after enjoying an incredible day at the races with all three drivers taking big victories, it was tough weekend in Indianapolis for Rising Star Racing’s drivers Neil Alberico, Spencer Pigot and Josef Newgarden as bad racing luck troubled the trio of drivers in the Angie’s List Grand Prix.
Alberico kicked off the weekend with a podium in Race 1 which was held as the make-up event to the rained-out NOLA Motorsports Park race. After starting eighth, he moved all the way up to third in a race that saw just 11 minutes of green flag running. But following that big performance, the No. 2 Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing entry suffered from mechanical gremlins all day on Friday and those issues plagued Alberico in Race 2 of the weekend which saw him take a 17th place finish.
The Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing team went to work to diagnose the car’s electrical problems and determined a new wiring harness was needed. That important part arrived just one hour before the start of Pro Mazda Race 3 with the Cape Motorsports crew members scurrying to ready the car.
“Between Florian (Latorre, teammate who crashed on Thursday) and I, we gave the team a big plate of work this weekend,” said Alberico. “They built a whole car for Florian the night before and last night they ripped apart all of the electronics on my car to get it fixed for today. We didn’t get the new wiring harness for the engine – the brains of the car – until an hour before the race and it was great today. All the gremlins we had since Wednesday were completely gone.”
Alberico started 10th in Race 3 on Saturday and the electrical issues on the car had ceded, allowing him a good race with his teammate Latorre through most of the 30 minute race. He took seventh at the checkered flag which was a welcome result for the team that had put so much effort into the weekend.
Whether it’s winning races like Alberico did in the previous round at Barber Motorsports Park, or struggling through a weekend plagued with mechanical issues, it’s his positive spirit that shines through.
“The positivity just comes from the people around me,” offered Alberico. “The Capes are the same way, it’s not just me, my Cape teammates - all the US F2000 guys and Pro Mazda teammates - we’re all the same. Florian (Latorre) crashed the day before and came back and finished second the day after. Everybody at Rising Star Racing has the same mentality. All of my sponsors, they support every single decision I make so all of that faith in me works wonders on a race weekend.”
Pigot has problems
Pigot was also in action for the Indy Lights double header at the Indianapolis road course on Friday and Saturday. He started sixth in Race 1 but was caught out while avoiding a crash in Turn 1 which set him back in the field. He was able to make up a few positions but with so much time lost and no caution periods to bunch the Indy Lights field back up, Pigot settled for seventh at the finish.
He and his Juncos Racing team looked to rebound on Saturday in Race 2 where Pigot started from the rear of the field after the team changed an engine prior to the race. Looking to work his way through the field to battle for a spot on the podium, Pigot was up two positions in the first turn. But as the pole sitter spun, the entire field took avoidance and Pigot once again found himself at the back of the field playing catch up after slowing and narrowly avoiding the spun car of Jones.
Pigot was on his way forward when another car made contact with his No. 12 Juncos Racing entry with just five laps completed. The hit was hard enough to damage the left front suspension and render the car undrivable and Pigot shot straight off the track and ended up beached in the gravel trap.
“It’s pretty disappointing because we had a really good shot at it today,” said Pigot. “The Juncos guys worked so hard all weekend and to have it end like this is a shame. We had made some improvements from the first race but unfortunately we didn’t get to use them. I wish we could have put on a better show for everyone who supports me – Mazda, Mockett, The Stutz, BAD, D-A Lubricants Company, MOBÉ and Rising Star Racing. I really love racing at Indianapolis, it’s a good track for passing and it’s just really fun to drive. Unfortunately we were taken out too early to show what we could do, but we’ll just look ahead to the next one. We still have another chance to win at Indianapolis, so we’re focusing forward to that one.”
Hopes high for Newgarden
Hopes were high for Newgarden in the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis after he broke through for victory in the previous round of Barber Motorsports Park. But unfortunately when the No. 3 and No. 9 car got together at the front of the field in Turn 1, it created an accordion affect. Newgarden had started in the 12th position which left him with nowhere to go as he was hit from behind.
Newgarden’s car stalled in Turn 1 and he was forced to wait for the safety team for a restart. Once he got going again, he brought the car to pit lane and his Carpenter Fisher Hartman Racing crew replaced the rear wing. The track position had been lost and without another caution period to allow Newgarden to rejoin at the rear of the field, the No. 67 Chevy machine went a lap down and Newgarden settled for a 20th place finish.
“I just felt a big hit from behind and got turned around and then we were just trying to stay on the lead lap after that,” said Newgarden. “It’s the toughest position you can be in as a racecar driver. We’re sitting top-five in the championship and we have to get everything we can. All we needed was a yellow to try and get our lap back and get back in the show. That yellow just never fell for us today.”
All three Rising Star Racing drivers won’t have long to wait to be back in race action. Pigot will be back racing on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval in two weeks while Alberico will next compete on May 23 on the Lucas Oil Raceway oval which is just down the road from IMS. Josef Newgarden will take part in his fourth Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 24.
Rising Star Racing