DRIVING THE USF- 17
There’s no prize in the junior ranks to rival
the three-race Verizon IndyCar Series deal
awarded to Spencer Pigot after he secured
the Indy Lights crown last year. That
opportunity, driving for Rahal Letterman
Lanigan Racing, put him onto the grid at
St. Petersburg, the Indianapolis Motor
Speedway road course and the 100th
running of the Indianapolis 500 (ABOVE).
But an opportunity is only worth so
much if you don’t build upon it, and
Pigot wasted no time in doing so: less
than a week after his final scheduled
outing with Rahal Letterman Lanigan,
the 22-year-old was heading out to
practice at Detroit in the second Ed
Carpenter Racing entry after getting the
call to race the car on all of the road and
street courses for the rest of the season.
Heading into Watkins Glen, the rookie
had top- 10 finishes at Road America and
Mid-Ohio under his belt, and had placed
himself firmly in the conversations about
full-time race seats for next year.
“The Mazda Road to Indy has been
vital to my career,” he says. “I’m fortunate
that we have this system in America that
has allowed me to go IndyCar racing.”
Spencer Pigot (ABOVE) took the IndyCar
opportunity that he earned through
winning the 2015 Lights title and turned it
into a regular drive in the series this year.
build some arms on these young kids.
But going on what the current IndyCar is
like, in terms of physical input needed,
why not start at the entry level?”
The similarities with the USF- 17’s
bigger cousin don’t stop there. Testing
has revealed that it is sensitive to setup
tweaks and changing fuel loads, although
tire performance remains extremely
consistent after the initial drop-off.
“I think that the drivers who can work
with their engineer and understand the
reasoning behind the changes that
they’re doing are going to excel,” Miller
says. And if that’s a sentiment familiar
to every current IndyCar driver, then the
generation that will follow them in years
to come is about to be given the perfect
tool to learn with.
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got to keep momentum up.
“And the brakes are unbelievable,” he
adds, “and that’s linked to the idea that
this car is also going to be the new
Pro Mazda car – the brakes are kind of
oversized for the power. At Road America
we’re braking at the ‘1’ board down into
Turn 5. It brakes very, very well.”
Those two characteristics alone augur
well for the new car’s raceability: an
emphasis on mechanical grip will allow
the cars to run close together; powerful
brakes will reward the brave. But its front
suspension configuration leads Miller to
suspect that time spent in the gym will
also be well rewarded.
“The pushrod goes straight into the
upright, which puts some weight into the
steering wheel,” he says. “So this car will
The USF- 17’s emphasis on mechanical,
rather than aero grip should make for
close racing in the 2017 Cooper Tires
USF2000 Powered by Mazda series.