- A tricky weather week at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway continued today with a hot and humid Fast Friday that was then interrupted by rain midday. By 4 p.m., the track was dry and Ed Carpenter and JR Hildebrand were able to complete preparations for tomorrow’s first day of qualifications for the 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500.
- After running three cars in the 2015 and 2016 Indianapolis 500, Ed Carpenter Racing chose to focus on a two-car program for Carpenter and Hildebrand in 2017. The duo has been putting in work this week with Carpenter turning 278 laps over the five days of practice while Hildebrand has run 288 laps. Their quickest times of the week came today with a lap of 230.712 miles per hour for Carpenter and 230.627 miles per hour for Hildebrand.
- The qualification order for tomorrow’s qualifications were chosen tonight, May 19th, in a blind draw. The No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet of Carpenter drew the 60th position and the No. 21 Preferred Freezer Services Chevrolet of Hildebrand drew 65th.
- At the conclusion of tomorrow’s qualifications, the starting field for the 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500 will be set. The fastest nine drivers will be locked into the field and advance to Sunday’s Fast Nine Shootout. Positions 10-33 are locked into the field and advance to Group 1 qualifying to determine the starting order for next weekend’s 500-mile race.
- 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’s” Indy 500 lineup features Hildebrand (Sausalito, Calif.) and hometown favorite Carpenter (Indianapolis, Ind.).
- Carpenter will be attempting to qualify for his 14th Indianapolis 500. He was a back-to-back pole winner for the Indianapolis 500, capturing the coveted first starting position in both 2013 and 2014. He is looking to bounce back after an electrical issue sidelined him not even halfway through the 2016 race on Lap 98 of 200. In his first race of 2017, he gained 14 positions at Phoenix Raceway and finished 7th.
- 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, including finishing 6th after leading last year. At the most recent oval race in Phoenix, Hildebrand stood on his first Verizon IndyCar Series podium after finishing 3rd.
- Indianapolis 500 qualifications will be carried online on Watch ESPN, beginning at 11 a.m. ET. At 3 p.m., live streaming will continue on IndyCar.com. ABC will broadcast the final two hours of Saturday’s qualifying with coverage beginning at 4 p.m.
ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet): At the end of the day, I’m happy we even got to run today and get some time on the boost since it could have been a wash. I wish I could say I feel more confident going into qualifying, but we’ve got our work cut out for us. It’s going to be really hard to make the Fast Nine right now, but we will keep doing what we can do on our end to make the best of it. The longer I ran today, the more focused I am on race running for the next day of practice to make sure the car is the best it can be just because qualifying is going to be a struggle right now.”
JR HILDEBRAND (No. 21 Preferred Freezer Services Chevrolet): “I feel like we made good changes for where we are and have dialed ourselves into a window. It seems like the Hondas are pretty fast right now, so it’s hard to know how everything will stack up. We can only control what we can control! I feel like we’ve gotten pretty close to understanding what our optimal window is. The weather conditions lately haven’t helped for qualifying this weekend because it all comes down to the track conditions when it’s go time. Tomorrow, we will just have to see where and how we can get the best speeds to make something out of our week.”
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!