Podium Performances for Rising Star Racing at Mid-Ohio
 August 4, 2015| 
  • Team News

Lexington, Ohio  – It was another big weekend for Rising Star Racing as Neil Alberico and Spencer Pigot made championship gains in their respective rungs of the Mazda Road to Indy. Alberico claimed victory on Sunday following a podium finish on Saturday, while Pigot picked up his first Mid-Ohio podium performance with a drive to third place on Sunday.

Alberico delivered a dominating victory in Sunday’s Pro Mazda Race 2 in which he led from the drop of the green flag all the way to the checkered.

After the first attempt at a start, the green was waved off and the pole sitter was moved to the rear of the field. That put Alberico at the point, and he never looked back. Posting faster lap times with each lap, he extended the gap in the No. 3 Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing machine each time by. Alberico had put over a 5.5-second advantage over the entire Pro Mazda field when a full-course caution was displayed with just minutes remaining in the race.

The event finished under caution and Alberico claimed his fourth Pro Mazda victory of the year. The result saw Alberico close the gap to the championship leader as he remains second in the standings, now 29 points back heading into the final double-header event.

“It’s huge to win this race at Mid-Ohio today,” said Alberico. “Everyone is pushing harder than ever in these last three races. It’s great to have some good momentum going into the final event at my home track of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.  It was good to get instant redemption today, because we felt like we kind of got robbed of the win yesterday. The Pro Mazda competition is really tough. Everyone is pushing really hard.”

It was Alberico’s second podium result of the weekend. He finished second in Pro Mazda Race 1 at Mid-Ohio on Saturday adding some more valuable points toward the 2015 Pro Mazda championship. After taking the race lead, Pro Mazda officials deemed Alberico to have jumped the start and he was forced to give up his two-second advantage and the position. Some very skillful driving saw Alberico give the position back and maintain second place despite a pack of Pro Mazda machines all eager to take advantage.

For Pigot, it was all about the Indy Lights championship title as he made big gains in the championship hunt over the weekend. After two solid performances in the Mid-Ohio double-header, Pigot sits just six points out of the championship lead with two rounds yet to run in the 2015 championship.

In both races, Pigot finished ahead of his main championship rivals Jack Harvey and Ed Jones.

On Saturday, Pigot faced an uphill battle. He started third and moved up to second, only to sustain a tire puncture after contact with the No. 42 of Harvey while battling for the race lead. The quick work of his Juncos Racing team to change the tire under green flag conditions, saw Pigot remain on the lead lap.

Pigot hung on to finish eighth and ahead of Harvey and Jones.

“I had a good start and was up to second and I was trying to pass RC (Enerson) and that didn’t quite work,” said Pigot of the opening lap. “(Jack) Harvey was to the right of me and he just kept turning down into me into Turn 7. I had nowhere to go so we hit and I had damage to my front right tire. We had to pit for a new tire and fortunately the Juncos guys were able to fix it quickly and I stayed on the lead lap. But it was a long day from there.”

Pigot lined up seventh on the grid for Race 2 on Sunday and moved up to fifth in just three laps. Running quick laps, he found himself in third at the half-way point of the race when Jones and Harvey made contact with each other while going for the race lead. Pigot completed the race third and picked up a good amount of points toward the championship with Jones and Harvey both finishing deep in the field.

“It was a really good day for the championship – we’ve gained quite a few points,” said Pigot, who sits just six points out of the championship lead as the Indy Lights Series next travels to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for the final two races of the season. “You just never know what’s going to happen in these races. I just tried to be patient and take positions when I could. I just tried to stay out of trouble as well. A big thanks to everyone at Juncos, Mazda, Mockett, The Stutz, BAD, D-A Lubricant Company, MOBÉ, cmcglobal and Barnes & Thornburg. I’m looking forward to the final event. I’ve never actually driven at Mazda Raceway before so I can’t wait to go down the Corkscrew for the first time! Hopefully we’re quick, it’s going to be a winner-take-all kind of situation so we’ll be pushing as hard as we can.”

Fellow Rising Star Racing driver Josef Newgarden showed well in practice all weekend long in Verizon IndyCar Series competition and qualified his No. 67 Hartman Oil Chevy fifth on the grid for CFH Racing. He ran toward the front of the field through the first half of the race only to be caught out by some unlucky full course caution timing. He ultimately finished 13th which did not reflect strength of the team at Mid-Ohio.

“It was a tough day, sometimes it is your day and sometimes it’s not,” offered Newgarden. “Today just wasn’t our day, that’s what it comes down to. Things play out for you sometimes and today didn’t play out for us strategy-wise. It was no real fault of our own, we just got unlucky. We had the pace and we had a good car, it was a good effort all weekend. It’s disappointing, but we’ll go on to the next one and hopefully take a shot at another victory in Pocono.”

Newgarden will be back in Verizon IndyCar Series competition at Pocono Raceway on August 23. The Pro Mazda and Indy Lights Championships will be decided in a double-header event at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on September 12 & 13. 

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