Strong grand prix showing has Carpenter team inspired for Indy 500

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INDIANAPOLIS – Ed Carpenter Racing looks to be bigger, better and stronger for the 103rd Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval following an impressive performance in the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the track’s road course.

ECR expands to three cars for the Indy 500, which gets activities underway with practice on Tuesday. Team owner/driver Ed Carpenter slips into the cockpit of the No. 20 Preferred Freezer Services Chevrolet, as he’s done for the team in oval races since 2014.

The “other” Ed – Ed Jones – moves to the No. 63 Indy 500-only entry in the continuing partnership with Scuderia Corsa after driving the first five races of the NTT IndyCar Series season, all on road and street circuits, in the No. 20. Spencer Pigot is the constant for ECR, driving all 17 season races in the No. 21 Chevrolet.

The team is in high spirits following Saturday’s INDYCAR Grand Prix. In a race that produced twists and turns for the entire 24-car field, Pigot and Jones benefited from the tricky conditions to finish season-best fifth and sixth, respectively. It was the first race this season for either to place in the top 10.

Pigot was strong through practice but only managed the 12th starting spot in qualifying. But the fourth-year driver moved up quickly, climbing to seventh place by the fourth of 85 laps on the 2.439-mile permanent road course. Other than during pit-stop cycles, he remained in the top 10 the rest of the race.

“I had a lot of fun,” Pigot said. “I was able to pass a lot of guys in the dry weather and our pace was strong.”

Pigot and Jones benefited from savvy strategy when both were called to the pits for Firestone rain tires on Lap 59, just before a full-course caution for Helio Castroneves’ car stranded at the edge of the track. It allowed the duo to leap past others who waited to pit under the caution.

“The rain came and it teased us throughout the day on if and when it would come,” Pigot said. “The guys made a great call to go on the rain tires when we did. We were able to jump a lot of guys with that.

“Overall, it was a great day and a strong showing for myself and Ed.”

Jones reached his first Firestone Fast Six in qualifying and started the race an impressive fifth. He ran as high as second and, like Pigot, never dipped below the top 10 except during pit cycles.

Following the key stop for rain tires, Jones was a spot ahead of his teammate, but Pigot made the move for position on Lap 83 and took over fifth position from Jones.

“The rain impacted the strategy all day, as we didn’t know when that was coming so we didn’t want to pit at the wrong time,” Jones said. “We thought it would come earlier so we were on our toes for that.

“That late yellow equaled the whole field out so it was a straight race until the end, which was fun and the car was good all day.”

Pigot’s finish was his best since last year at Portland, when he finished fourth. It was Jones’ best result since Race 2 at Detroit’s Belle Isle in 2018, when he finished third.

Indianapolis 500 practice runs Tuesday through Friday, from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. ET each day, and will stream live on INDYCAR Pass on NBC Sports Gold. Two days of qualifying to set the field take place Saturday and Sunday, with coverage split among INDYCAR Pass, NBCSN and NBC.

The 103rd Indianapolis 500 airs live at 11 a.m. Sunday, May 26 on NBC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.

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