SPEEDWAY, Ind. (April 4, 2017) – Advance Notes
- Ed Carpenter Racing heads to the west coast this weekend for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, the location of the team’s first street course victory in 2014. JR Hildebrand will return to Long Beach for the first time since 2013, driving the No. 21 Preferred Freezer Services Chevrolet. Spencer Pigot, road and street course driver of the No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet, will make his first start at the 1.968-mile, 12-turn street circuit.
- The season-opening Firestone of Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 12 left the ECR duo anxious to get to Long Beach. What started off as a promising day for Pigot in St. Petersburg was cut short after a brake fire following his first stint. After racing his way from 13th to 5th, Pigot dropped 16 laps behind the leader when the crew was forced to change the outside rear brake rotor after the fire. Hildebrand was caught in a first-lap incident that dropped him to the back of the field, but he persevered to gain six positions over his qualifying spot to finish 13th.
- This weekend, Pigot’s No. 20 will feature social media sensation Loki the Wolfdog, a husky/arctic wolf/malamute mix with over 1.4 million Instagram followers. Rising Star Racing orchestrated the partnership with Loki’s owner Kelly Lund, marking one of the first times a major social media influencer has been featured on an Indy car. Loki will attend the race weekend as a guest of RSR and Pigot, with plans to document his experience along the way in photo and video content to share with his loyal followers.
- Hildebrand’s familiar white and blue Preferred Freezer Services livery will re-emerge on track as the No. 21 for the first time at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Fans will recognize the car as looking similar to the one Hildebrand drove at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) in 2015 and 2016. This year, the No. 21 will also run as the Preferred Freezer Services Chevrolet at the INDYCAR Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500, both contested at IMS, and the Honda Indy Toronto, the only international stop on the 2017 schedule. 2017 marks the fourth consecutive year that the partnership between Preferred Freezer Services and Ed Carpenter Racing has grown to include additional events.
- Even though he is now a veteran Verizon IndyCar Series driver, Long Beach is one of two courses on Pigot’s 2017 schedule that he has not yet raced in an Indy car. Two years ago, Pigot finished second in the Indy Lights race at Long Beach on his way to winning the 2015 championship.
- Hildebrand won the 2009 Indy Lights championship in a season that included a victory at Long Beach. He has three previous starts in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, including 5th place finishes in both 2012 and 2013.
- ECR won the 2014 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach with Mike Conway behind the wheel of the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet. It was the team’s first of three wins that seasons and it’s first on a street course. The Speedway, Ind.-based team began competing in the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2012 and has earned seven victories in it’s first five seasons.
- Though it will have been nearly a month between the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and this weekend’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, ECR drivers have kept sharp with a multitude of testing. In the time between races, Hildebrand and Pigot completed tests on the road courses of Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama and Sebring International Raceway in Florida. Oval driver and team co-owner Ed Carpenter jumped in the No. 20 to join Hildebrand at a test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last Sunday, April 2. ECR will head to Texas Motor Speedway for an oval test immediately following Long Beach.
- The Verizon IndyCar Series returns to NBC Sports Network for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach with coverage each day. Second practice on Friday, April 7 will be broadcast from 5-6:30 p.m. ET, followed by qualifying on Saturday, April 8 from 7:30-9 p.m. ET. The 85-lap race will be live from 4-7 p.m. ET on Sunday, April 9.
SPENCER PIGOT (No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet): “I haven’t raced at Long Beach since Indy Lights in 2015 so I am very excited to be driving there again. It’s one of my favorite street courses and the Grand Prix has so much history, it’s always been a race I wanted to drive in. We had a lot of positives to take away from the first race in St. Petersburg and I’m confident we can continue that form. The Fuzzy’s Vodka crew has been working hard to be as prepared as possible and I’m looking forward to a good weekend!”
JR HILDEBRAND (No. 21 Preferred Freezer Services Chevrolet): “I’ve always enjoyed the Toyota Grand Prix Long Beach. It is an awesome event we always have a good time going to. It’s kind of like Indianapolis in some ways, you can feel the vibe of everyone being excited about there. It is a cool place. It’s a challenging race track, but it’s also a lot of fun. I’ve had some good success there, I won the Indy Lights race there in 2009 as well as a couple of Top 5 finishes in the Indy car. I’m looking forward to making more progress. We have had a couple of tests since St. Pete and are ready to put in some more work and move our way up the grid!”