Spencer Pigot re-signs with Ed Carpenter Racing for 2017 IndyCar season

Spencer Pigot will get a second season in IndyCar after Ed Carpenter Racing inked a deal to keep him as the road and street course driver of the No. 20.

Ed Carpenter Racing ended speculation over who its third IndyCar driver would be on Tuesday, when the team announced that it had re-signed Spencer Pigot to remain as the road and street course driver for the No. 20 entry.

Pigot made his IndyCar debut in 2016, first with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing before ECR signed him during the season to become owner-driver Ed Carpenter’s co-driver. He participated in 10 of 16 races between the two organizations; his best finish was ninth place at Road America.

“I’m very excited to be staying with Ed Carpenter Racing for the 2017 season,” Pigot said in a press release issued Tuesday. “It’s a great feeling to know that I have a secure ride for all of the road and street course races so we can start preparing for the season now.

“I can’t thank everyone at ECR, P1 Management and Rising Star Racing enough for their help getting this deal done.”

The 2015 Indy Lights champion showed some promise in his initial campaign, providing a stable partner to Carpenter, who only races the No. 20 on the eight oval tracks on the IndyCar schedule. Now with the benefit of re-signing before the season he’ll have the opportunity to prepare better than before.

Retaining him also creates a consistency for ECR as the team looks to push forward without its best driver, Josef Newgarden, who departed for Team Penske in the fall. Carpenter also elected to hire from within to replace Newgarden and promoted Indy 500-only driver J.R. Hildebrand to be the full-time driver of the No. 21. So while Newgarden’s absence will still leave a void in 2017 the rest of the team will be nothing but familiar faces.

And if you’re a race fan this is also encouraging news, because it means all of the top four rookies from last year — Alexander Rossi, Conor Daly, Max Chilton and Pigot — will be back for sophomore shots. A large part of any sport is being able to retain and grow talent, and Pigot is part of the next generation of IndyCar, which also happens to be the league’s promotional angle this season.

The pressure will be on for Ed Carpenter Racing to prove it can still succeed without Newgarden, and it certainly helps to have the same drivers back instead of trying to go through this period of change and integrate new drivers. The question is if Pigot can improve on his average numbers from 2016 and if so, will that make him a viable candidate for a full-time drive elsewhere in 2018?

Part-time driving Carpenter’s No. 20 is a solid gig to put on the resume, but most every driver is looking for a full-time ride, so fans will have to wait and see if Pigot not only is able to deliver what he needs to survive, but also if he tries to use this deal as a stepping stone to something bigger. His first order of business will be to get on a podium in 2017.

Pigot will make his first appearance in the 2017 IndyCar season opener, the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, on March 12. Tickets are still available through the race website and it will also be nationally televised on ABC.

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