- What was anticipated to be a successful day for Ed Carpenter Racing was fraught with misfortune for both Ed Carpenter and JR Hildebrand. After starting second, Carpenter managed an 11th place finish following contact that required an additional pit stop to change a front wing. Hildebrand was hit with a late-race drive-through penalty, dropping him from what looked to be a Top 5 finish to a 16th place result.
- Carpenter started from the front row for the third time in the past five years, rolling the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet off 2nd. Hildebrand earned the best starting position of his Indy 500 career, qualifying his No. 21 Preferred Freezer Services Chevrolet in 6th. Today’s Indianapolis 500 was Carpenter’s 14th and Hildebrand’s 7th.
- The 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500 began with a clean start. Carpenter settled into 4th while Hildebrand was just behind in 5th. The ECR Chevrolets were able to stretch their fuel longer than the leading three Honda, moving Carpenter to the lead on Lap 28 of the race as the others made their stops. He made his first pit stop on Lap 30 and upon re-entering the race, resumed the lead. When Carpenter came into the pit lane, Hildebrand became the leader of the race. He made his first stop on Lap 31, cycling out in 5th.
- Both Carpenter and Hildebrand remained near the front of the field through a red flag period at Lap 55. At the time of the red, Carpenter was 4th and Hildebrand was 6th. They made their second pit stops on Lap 57, after engines were re-fired and maintained their positions. Carpenter ran no worse than 7th and Hildebrand ran no worst than 8th until the next set of pit stops under caution on Lap 82. Carpenter did not have enough room to blend in at Pit Out and had to back out of it to avoid a collision. He dropped to 13th while Hildebrand dropped to 12th.
- Carpenter had preserved and worked his way forward, running 8th at the time of his next pit stop on Lap 114. Hildebrand had fallen back to 16th and made a stop on the same lap. Hildebrand went off sequence on Lap 124, pitting under a caution. It was a strategy that had him in position to make only one more stop during the race.
- With the caution flag flying on Lap 137, Carpenter took advantage of the open pit lane two laps later. Hildebrand stayed out, vaulting him to 3rd. Carpenter, on the same strategy as the leaders, found himself in 18th behind eight cars that did not pit. This proved to be detrimental on the Lap 142 restart as Carpenter found himself trapped in a pack of cars going into Turn 1. He turned down to avoid Pippa Mann on his outside, but Mikhail Aleshin was already on his inside. The left side of his front wing was ripped off in the contact with Aleshin’s sidepod, requiring an extra pit stop for a replacement front wing. He then had to pit again for his regularly scheduled stop, dropping him to 22nd.
- Hildebrand remained in the Top 5 through his final stop of the race on Lap 168, when he pitted from the lead. He cycled out in 6th, where he remained through a restart on Lap 183. He accelerated at the same pace as the leaders, but the car in front of him, Oriol Servia, did not accelerate. He deftly avoided Servia’s slow car and passed him. Four cars behind Servia made contact with him, taking five cars out of the race and leading to a lengthy clean up. At the restart, Hildebrand was hit with a drive-through penalty for passing before the green flag, though his pass was to avoid hitting the slow car of Servia. He dropped from 5th to 16th, where he would finish the race.
- Carpenter avoided the five-car accident and found himself back in the Top 10. Gabby Chaves passed Carpenter with five laps to go, landing him in 11th where he would finish the race.
- Ed Carpenter Racing will return to their race shop, located four blocks south of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway tomorrow. The team will prepare the cars for Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix doubleheader, with races on both Saturday, June 3 and Sunday, June 4. Hildebrand will be joined by Spencer Pigot, road and street course driver of the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet. Pigot contested today’s Indianapolis 500 with Juncos Racing and finished 18th.
ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet), Finished 11th: “The start of the day, the race was going our way. We were running up front but then we started losing positions, had a couple bad pit stops and got shuffled back. We were running around people we shouldn’t even have been running with. On the restart, I got hung out because I didn’t see Pippa outside, while I was trying to go to the outside. When I saw her, I hit the brakes but tore up the front wing and knocked the toe out. It’s a bummer, the result didn’t show what type of car we had. We lost track position at the wrong times and made for a disappointing day, but congratulations to Takuma (Sato). He’s a great guy and driver who has been close here before. We will be back next year, but we’ve got some work to do. Our competitors are tough right now, so we have to make ourselves better.”
JR HILDEBRAND (No. 21 Preferred Freezer Services Chevrolet), Finished 16th: “We were able to run up front when we were there, but I’m not positive we had anything for those guys at the end. We definitely had a 5th or 6th place car. We could keep station and pick guys off when they made mistakes when we were running closer to clean air. I’m just annoyed about the drive-through penalty. I understand the rules, but the entire field went and the car in front of me didn’t. I’m not sure what they expect all of us to do. It’s a lousy way to end a race where the team did a great job and the Preferred Freezer Car was good enough to hang on up there. We made some great strategy calls to help get us back to the front group of cars. For executing at a high level all day, for it to end like that, leaves you feeling empty inside. That’s how this place works and we will come back with another shot next year.”
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!