@ProMazda • @Scott_Hargrove • Both Spencer Pigot and Scott Hargrove have marked themselves as “the real deal” as the 2014 Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires has unfolded.
This weekend at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., the talented duo will go head-to-head for the championship title and a MAZDASPEED Driver Development Scholarship plus other incentives worth more than $580,000 to facilitate graduation to the next step of the Mazda Road to Indy, Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, in 2015.
Victory last Saturday on the Milwaukee Mile oval was Pigot’s sixth of the season from 12 races for Juncos Racing, enabling him to build a 19-point advantage, 290-271, over Hargrove with just this weekend’s pair of races on the challenging 2.385-mile, 12-turn natural terrain road course remaining. Pigot, 20, from Orlando, Fla., convincingly won the pre-season Cooper Tires Pro Mazda Winterfest mini-series after finishing fourth as a rookie in the 2013 Pro Mazda championship. He previously took second in both 2011 and 2012 editions of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.
Rookie Hargrove, 19, from Vancouver, B.C., Canada, won last year’s USF2000 championship, plus a MAZDASPEED scholarship to move up into Pro Mazda, and has designs on following in the footsteps of current Indy Lights driver Matthew Brabham who became the first driver ever to win successive USF2000 and Pro Mazda titles in 2012 and 2013. Hargrove, who has won three races this year for Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing, already has clinched BBS Rookie of the Year honors.
Hargrove’s teammate, Neil Alberico, from Los Gatos, Calif., holds third place in the overall standings, and second in the rookie chase, but has a host of rivals breathing down his neck. Alberico currently has a nine-point edge over Andretti Autosport’s Shelby Blackstock, who produced a stunning charge last weekend at Milwaukee to vault from eighth to third in the closing stages.
Blackstock’s teammate, Garett Grist, whose roller-coaster rookie campaign has included two wins, lies 15 markers behind and just one point clear of both Brazilian Nicolas Costa (Team Pelfrey) and another local driver, Kyle Kaiser (Juncos Racing), who will be looking to rediscover the form that brought him successive podium finishes in the first three races of the year. Kaiser, from Santa Clara, Calif., perhaps has more experience than any of his rivals at Sonoma Raceway, having won the Sonoma-based Formula Car Challenge Pro Mazda division as a 16-year-old in 2012.
Hopes are high for the largest field of the season this weekend, with several talented youngsters looking to make their mark in what has been one of the strongest seasons for Pro Mazda for several years.
London, England-based Jack Aitken will make his North American debut with Team Pelfrey after scoring some strong results in European Formula Renault competition. Last year’s Team USA Scholarship winner Joey Bickers, from Moorpark, Calif., will make the big step up from racing in the Mazda MX-5 Championship, joining World Speed Motorsports alongside 17-year-old Alex Keyes, from Folsom, Calif., who recently clinched the West Coast-based Formula Car Challenge aboard a Lynx Racing Pro Mazda car. Parker Nicklin, 17, from Las Vegas, Nev., who lies second to Keyes in the FCC after winning last year’s FormulaSPEED 2.0 series, also will step up to Pro Mazda with M1 Racing.
Season-Ending Banquet Set for Sunday Evening
All three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy will celebrate an extraordinarily successful year with a banquet to be held at the Jacuzzi Family Winery, close to Sonoma Raceway, on Sunday evening. A total of more than $2 million in prizes will be distributed, of which over $670,000 is allocated to the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires.
The battle for the Team Championship will be decided over the final weekend, with Juncos Racing currently holding a slim eight-point margin, 319-311, over Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing.
Expert Series honors, for drivers over the age of 30, seem set to be claimed by World Speed’s Bobby Eberle, from Houston, Texas. Eberle took the lead at Mid-Ohio early this month and now holds a nine-point margin, 162-153, over Arizona’s Jay Horak (M1 Racing).
The Pro Mazda competitors will take to the track for a pair of test sessions on Thursday, August 21, followed by an intense day on Friday that will begin with practice from 9:00-9:30 a.m., followed by qualifying at 12:30 p.m. and then the first of two 40-minute races at 4:20 p.m. Following a brief final warmup session at 8:30 on Saturday, August 23, the green flag for the season finale will fly at 3:40 p.m. All times are Pacific Time. Live timing and commentary for all sessions will be available at www.promazdachampionship.com.
From Tamy Valkosky, Public Relations