SEBRING, Fla.—18-year-old Spencer Pigot won two of the first three USF2000 races of the season at the Cooper Tires Winterfest at Sebring International Raceway Monday and Tuesday, Feb 6–7, while Cape Motorsports/ Wayne Taylor Racing teammate Matthew Brabham, 17, took the final race win. A third Cape/Taylor driver, Trent Hindman, 16, finished third in all three races.
All three races were plagued by caution periods and inclement weather. Qualifying for race No. 1 took place right after a lunchtime downpour, then a first-lap accident by 2011 National Class champion Luca Forgeois brought out a lengthy caution period.
Pigot in his No. 2 Team Pelfrey Van Diemen-Mazda and Brabham in No. 83 DTE Group car led from the green flag until the yellow, reestablished their leads on the restart, and were far ahead of the field at the checkered flag, Pigot almost three seconds ahead because of an electrical issue which slowed his opponent, son of sports car champ Geoff Brabham.
The second race, Tuesday afternoon, featured another fierce fight between Pigot, Brabham, and Hindman. Pigot took the lead from polesitter HIndman on the first lap; Brabham got by on lap 5. On lap 8, Brabham was right on Pigot’s tail through Turn Seven when a slight sprinkle of rain dampened the track.
Before Brabham could fight his way past Pigot, J.R. Smart in the Pabst Racing Services car hit a slick patch braking for Turn Seven and clobbered the guardrail, bringing out a full-course caution which lasted until the timed race ended.
“I came into the braking zone and it was a little damp. I got on the brakes and the car snapped around on me, did a 180, got caught up in the guard rail and I just hung on for the ride,” Smart said of the incident. “Physically I feel fine, but I’m a little disappointed.”
The third race, late Tuesday afternoon, made it all the way to the checker without incident, though another shower hit the track in the final lap.
Brabham started from the pole, lost the lead to Pigot and regained it, then ran off a string of fastest laps to win by 2.5 seconds. The only race of the event without a full-course caution, this contest gave all the drivers a chance to show what they had over a full 12 laps, and this time, Brabham had a little too much for the competition.
Pigot has a four-point lead going into the series’ next races, at Ft. Lauderdale Feb. 11–12.
USF 2000 will be back in action at Sebring on March 15–16, as part of the 60th Anniversary Sebring 12 Hours weekend. Tickets are available through the Sebring International Raceway website.