Neil Alberico Delivers Podium Result in Indianapolis
 May 10, 2014| 
  • Team News
Quick video-Neil Alberico talks about his first-ever Pro Mazda podium as he is congratulated by his Cape Motorsports team owners

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – There are few better sounds in racing than the sound of champagne being uncorked, and on a history-making day, Rising Star Racing was once again part of a big podium celebration at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Friday.

Rising Star Racing took its fifth consecutive Pro Mazda podium finish as Rising Star driver Neil Alberico took third in the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Alberico, who took the green flag for just the fifth time in the Pro Mazda category as he continues his rookie campaign, delivered a stellar start as the green flag flew. Having opened the race from eighth on the grid in the No. 2 Bondurant School/ Trophy/Rising Star Racing Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing entry, Alberico utilized the draft of the long Indianapolis front straightaway perfectly to take advantage and work his way all the way up to second in Turn 1.

Due to a multi-car incident in the first turn on Lap 1, a full course caution was displayed which set Alberico up second on the restart. He wasted no time in taking over the race lead as he expertly slotted into the first position in Turn 4 after capitalizing on a momentary mistake by the leader.

In a race that saw two more caution periods, Alberico defended masterfully on the first – maintaining the lead through several laps. The Pro Mazda field took to the green for the final time on Lap 15 and a battle for the lead ensued with Alberico ultimately relinquishing the point and taking third in the final laps.

“I’ve had a lot of exciting races and this was definitely one of them,” said Alberico of his first podium finish of the season. “I survived two big accidents and led the most laps of the race. It was a great day for Cape Motorsports. (Teammate) Scott (Hargrove) finished first and I got third so that was great. It was a good race for sure. There was definitely a lot of rubbing, but it was clean. It’s exciting to take home the points and our first podium of the season so we will just see where we can take it from here. On that last restart I was basically a sitting duck in the lead and Scott (Hargrove) and I went side-by-side on every turn of this racetrack, I think. I beat him the first time and he beat me the second time and unfortunately the second one happened with just about five laps left so it was hard to challenge at that point.”

It was a remarkable result for the Pro Mazda rookie, who led 11 laps of the 19 lap race.

Pro Mazda Points Leader Spencer Pigot, who won the first four races of the championship, faced frustration in his debut on the Indianapolis road course when contact in just the second turn saw him fighting back for remainder of the race.

Pigot opened the race from the pole and through some dicing at the start found himself in fourth position in Turn 2 when his No. 7 Doug Mockett & Company/Rising Star Racing/Vitamin-DPro App/California Scents/Juncos Racing machine was turned from behind. Though able to continue, Pigot was forced to sit stationary as the entire Pro Mazda field drove by.

The race went under full course caution which allowed Pigot to catch back up to the rear of the field. Poised to make his move on the restart, Pigot improved four positions in just one lap to run 11th and worked his way into 10th by the following lap. Having moved up to eighth, another yellow was displayed which once again slowed the field.

On the  following restart, Pigot continued to make forward progress and was ready to move back up into podium contention only to be caught up in a multi-car incident in Turn 7 which saw the No. 7 machine lose its nose cone. Pigot was able to keep the car running but had make a stop in pit lane for a replacement nose. With four laps remaining in the race on the final restart, Pigot restarted 14th and still showing strong pace, was able to move his way into ninth by the checkered flag.

“It’s really disappointing, because the Juncos Racing guys gave me a great car all weekend long,” said Pigot, who will once again start on pole for Saturday’s Race 2. “Even after the first contact, we were fast and I was able to pick off cars one by one. We definitely had a car to challenge for the win today so it’s frustrating to be taken out that way. But we managed to salvage a ninth place finish, take home some points, and hopefully come back with a win tomorrow.”

The result was especially disappointing for Pigot and his Juncos Racing team after having showed strength all weekend long by posting quick laps among the top-two throughout every practice session.

Pigot and Alberico will be back in Pro Mazda action Saturday at 12:10 PM ET for Race 2.
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