- With it’s race shop located a mere four blocks south of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the INDYCAR Grand Prix can certainly be considered a “hometown” race for Ed Carpenter Racing. Saturday’s event at IMS kicks off the on-track portion of the Month of May and will precede the 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500 at the end of the month. ECR drivers JR Hildebrand and Spencer Pigot will take on the 85-lap INDYCAR Grand Prix, the fourth annual running of the road course race.
- Though 2017 is Hildebrand’s first full season with Ed Carpenter Racing, he has been with the team each May since 2014. All three of his Indianapolis 500 starts with ECR have resulted in Top 10 finishes; additionally, he has competed the INDYCAR Grand Prix with the team the past two years. In 2016, an untimely caution closed the pit lane just as Hildebrand was scheduled to come in. He coasted to a stop at the outermost portion of the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course, out of fuel. Once the safety team towed Hildebrand back to the pit lane, he was able to continue in the race after his crew fueled and re-fired the car.
- Pigot raced in the 2016 INDYCAR Grand Prix in what was only his second career Verizon IndyCar Series start. Competing for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, Pigot started 18th and gained seven positions over the course of the race to finish 11th. He also competed in last year’s Indianapolis 500 for RLLR, then joined Ed Carpenter Racing for the remainder of the season one week later at the Detroit Grand Prix.
- Hildebrand, who will be making his 50th Indy car start this weekend, has the benefit of momentum on his side. Two weeks ago at Phoenix Raceway, the 29-year-old qualified a career-best third. After 250 laps on the one-mile oval, Hildebrand took the checkered flag in the third position and participated in the first podium celebration of his Verizon IndyCar Series career. He did so with a surgically repaired left hand, which was broken in a last lap incident in Long Beach on April 9. Hildebrand was forced to sit the following race at Barber Motorsports Park, returning to the No. 21 one week later in Phoenix.
- Pigot has been competitive in each of his races this season, running consistently in the Top 10. His best finish of the year came as an 8th place in Long Beach, his first race on the street circuit. The 23-year-old drives the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet at all of the road and street course events, including three of the first four races of 2017. Team owner Ed Carpenter will step back into the No. 20 for the Indianapolis 500 at the end of the month.
- Hildebrand will return to the familiar blue and white Preferred Freezer Services livery, the colors he has carried at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway since his first start with ECR in 2014. Hildebrand will run the No. 21 Preferred Freezer Services Chevrolet in both the INDYCAR Grand Prix and the 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500. PFS was also featured on Hildebrand’s car at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach and will re-emerge at the Honda Indy Toronto in mid-July. 2017 marks the fourth consecutive year that the partnership between Preferred Freezer Services and Ed Carpenter Racing has grown to include additional events.
- The No. 20 of Pigot and Carpenter will remain in the traditional green and gold Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka colors during the Month of May. Throughout the month, the trio of ECR drivers will be found across Indianapolis at signings for Fuzzy’s Vodka’s 2017 Patriotic Limited Edition bottle. For each 2017 commemorate bottle sold, Fuzzy’s Vodka will donate $1 to Fisher House Foundation. The Fisher House program provides “a home away from home” for families of patients receiving medical care at major military and VA medical centers. The homes provide temporary free lodging so families can be close to their loved ones during a medical crisis. A complete list of bottle signings can be found at www.edcarpenterracing.com.
- Ed Carpenter Racing earned the nicknamed “Team America” in 2015 when ECR was the only multi-car team with an all-American driver line up in the Indianapolis 500. The trend continues through the 2017 season as “Team America” now features Hildebrand (Sausalito, Calif.), Pigot (Orlando, Fla.), and hometown favorite Carpenter (Indianapolis, Ind.).
- On-track activity for the INDYCAR Grand Prix has been consolidated to two days this year. On Friday, May 12, all practice sessions and qualifications will be streamed live on indycar.com. The television broadcast of the INDYCAR Grand Prix will run from 3:30-6 p.m. ET on Saturday, May 13.
SPENCER PIGOT (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet): “I can’t wait to get back to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. We’ve been really strong in all the races so far this year, so hopefully that continues this weekend. I was able to race on the road course last year, it’s going to be great to get back out there. I think we’ve got a really good shot with the Fuzzy’s Vodka crew.”
JR HILDEBRAND (No. 21 Preferred Freezer Services Chevrolet): “I am really looking forward to getting back on track at the INDYCAR Grand Prix and kicking off our on track activity for the Month of May! It’s a great way to get things rolling out at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!