Team Pelfrey IL Narrowly Misses Victory in the Freedom 100
 May 29, 2016| 
  • Team News

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires field put on a show in Friday’s Mazda Freedom 100, but none were as entertaining as the Team Pelfrey Indy Lights duo of Juan Piedrahita and Scott Hargrove. With both starting outside the top ten, the yellow Mazdas rocketed to the front in the 40-lap event, and contact on a white flag restart very well could be all that kept the team from its first Indy Lights win. 

Hargrove’s No. 3 GAP Guard machine provisionally sat on pole during Thursday’s rain-shortened qualifying, and was forced to start from the 11th starting position. But the Canadian was quick to prove his pace on Thursday was no fluke. In his first ever race on the famed speedway, Hargrove passed one car after the other, fighting his way to his first top five since the first race of the season in St. Petersburg, a 5th-place finish. “As a team, I think we all needed this weekend," said Hargrove. "We had a lot of speed, the cars were unbelievable, I could run so well in traffic. If I had a little bit more experience I’m sure I would have been right up at the front, but for my first race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, I can’t be more thrilled to get a top five and learn so much.” 

Hargrove was also impressed by the Carb Day crowd at IMS, where estimates have ranged as high as 100,000. “It was so cool to race in front of so many fans. Plus it was my first race on live TV too, and I didn’t really make any mistakes. The last lap was cool for me. I was side-by-side with another car from the backstretch to the finish and I just got him by a nose. There was a bit of rubbing between us, but that’s all good. I’m just stoked to see the No. 3 GAP Guard car back up at the front and back where it will be for the rest of the year.” 

Meanwhile, calling Piedrahita’s drive on Friday entertaining would be a vast understatement. Starting from the inside of row 7, the Colombian consistently picked off cars from the start, and by the midway point his No. 2 Polipetrosur/Pawco car was in the top five. “It was one of the best cars I’ve ever driven, one of the best races of my life,” said Piedrahita. “I was passing guys one-by-one, and at one point I think I passed four guys – I just saw the gap and went for it. The car was great inside, outside, upwards, backwards; it was an amazing car. I had a lot of fun, got up to first, led a little bit before the yellow flag.” 

That yellow flag – for a stopped car on lap 36 of 40 – set up a one-lap dash to the finish, where Piedrahita would restart second, behind Andretti Autosport’s Dean Stoneman. “Really, I don’t know what to tell you about the restart. In my opinion, it looked like (Stoneman) got a little bit of wheel spin and got out of the throttle, then I’m not sure if he got wheel spin again or braked, but I was getting a run on him and I was right on his wing and I lost the car trying to avoid him.”  Piedrahita’s evasive maneuver nullified his momentum and damaged his nose cone, and he was forced to hold on for the remaining 2.5 miles, coming home 8th. “Really, I think that race was ours, and I’m disappointed but at the same time happy for the performance, and really thankful to Yves (Touron, lead engineer) and the guys for all their work.” 

Leaving the month of May, Team Pelfrey IL and the rest of Indy Lights have four weeks before getting back to racing action. The weekend of June 24-26, Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires returns to the 4.0-mile behemoth Road America for a doubleheader weekend. Race 1 will run on Saturday, June 25, and Race 2 on Sunday June 26. Live video of all Mazda Road to Indy sessions can be found on the Road to Indy TV mobile app.

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