2015 Indy Lights champion Spencer Pigot will jump to the Verizon IndyCar Series next year as a part-time driver for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. Pigot, who was one of the Indy Lights drivers to test with the senior circuit before the season finale at Sonoma, will run three IndyCar races – the March season opener at St. Petersburg and then both Indianapolis races in May, including the historic 100th running of the Indianapolis 500.
The 22-year-old joined RLL owner Bobby Rahal on a recent conference call with media where they discussed the decision to promote Pigot to drive alongside 2015 IndyCar contender Graham Rahal, and how the deal may be extended to more than three races if the financial situation allows RLL to field a second car.
“We hope that this isn’t limited to just three races,” said Rahal. “Obviously funding plays a role for anybody, any team, but we’ve already received some interest. So the goal here is to run Spencer as much as we can in 2016.”
The addition of Pigot was unexpected from RLL, which had previously thought to field just one entry for Graham Rahal next season, with the exception of adding a second car for the Indy 500. But now they will have what will at least partially be a two-car team – and not just a two-car team, but one fronted by two young, up-and-coming American drivers in a sport that is looking for more US talent.
“It’s obviously a big jump. The cars are a lot bigger, a lot more physically demanding. I got a taste of it at Sonoma a few months ago,” said Pigot, who did not test with Rahal but with Team Penske in August. “Definitely opened my eyes a bit. I’m back in Indy now, so I’ll be training at PitFit here in Indy, getting me ready for next year. Just have to work on my neck and upper body strength.
“But I felt pretty good after the test at Sonoma. So just have to fine-tune some things and continue to do what I’ve been doing the last couple years.”
He landed at RLL after five IndyCar teams put in bids for his services. “We did have interest from a number of teams but, frankly, Bobby’s proposal and the résumé that is his team spoke volumes to me,” said Dan Andersen, whose company oversees the Road to Indy, which also includes Pro Mazda and the USF2000 Championship.
“We wanted the right thing for Spencer. There are a lot of options out there, but this is a package that we think Spencer can really shine in his debut performances. It was very important to us not to simply put him in a car, but to put him in the right car.”
Several Indy Lights champions have gone on to find success in the Verizon IndyCar Series; a good example in this case would be CFH Racing’s Josef Newgarden, a former titleholder who broke out in 2015 with two race victories and put himself into contention for the Astor Cup. But winning at one level is not guaranteed to translate at another, as athletes in many sports have found out. Fans will have to watch in 2016 and see if Pigot can add to the American presence in IndyCar.
For more on the Verizon IndyCar Series, visit the league’s website.