HOUSTON – Scott Hargrove claimed victory today in the strangest of fashions during the first leg of the Pro Mazda Championship doubleheader at NRG Park.
The Canadian’s third win of the season for Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing moved him into the lead of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires after nine of this season’s 14 races.
Fellow Canadian Garett Grist (Andretti Autosport) qualified on pole position for the second straight race but maintained his advantage only until Turn Two where erstwhile series points leader Spencer Pigot (Juncos Racing) made a bold maneuver around the outside. Pigot’s teammate, Kyle Kaiser, demoted Grist one more position at Turn Three.
The trio finished lap one in that order – Pigot ahead of Kaiser and Grist – with Hargrove, who had started third, next in line but locked in combat with Nicolas Costa (Team Pelfrey) and his own teammate, Neil Alberico. Costa, on a charge from sixth on the grid after making a mistake in qualifying, then passed Hargrove cleanly into turn four. Alberico followed him through. Into the braking area for turn six, Hargrove abruptly veered to the inside, hoping to take his teammate by surprise, but succeeded only in tagging the unfortunate Alberico’s rear wheel and sending him spinning into the wall.
During the ensuring full-course caution the heavens opened – but only on a small section of the track, in turns six and seven. When the green flags waved again with six laps completed, Pigot and Kaiser continued to lead the way. Hargrove quickly moved from fifth to third, only to be assessed a drive-through penalty for causing the earlier incident.
With rain soon beginning to fall again more heavily, the Canadian dropped far back down the order in serving his penalty, then followed the example of several other drivers by stopping in the pits next time around for a change to wet weather Cooper tires. At almost the same time, local driver Clark Toppe’s Pro Mazda debut came to an abrupt end when his JDC MotorSports car ground to a halt out on the circuit and the caution flags flew one more time.