- Just like last year, the No. 21 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet will start on the outside of the front row at Iowa Speedway. JR Hildebrand qualified 2nd for tomorrow’s Iowa Corn 300, the best starting position of his Verizon IndyCar Series career. Team owner Ed Carpenter matched his highest qualifying effort at Iowa Speedway and will roll off 4th. Next, Ed Carpenter Racing hopes to return one of their two Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolets to Iowa Speedway’s victory lane, also for the second year in a row.
- Team owner Ed Carpenter was at the top of the charts for almost the entirety of the opening one hour and fifteen minute practice session this morning. He began practice with a qualification simulation, turning a fast lap of 184.137 miles per hour. he lap held up as the quickest until the final five minutes of the practice session when he was bumped down to 4th.
- Hildebrand was 11th on the speed chart when he went out on his own qualification simulation near the end of the session. He spun entering Turn 1, with the back end of the car squarely contacting the wall. After an evaluation in the infield care center, he was released and cleared to resume driving. Meanwhile, the No. 21 crew worked to repair the Fuzzy’s Vodka car. The task was completed with ample time to spare before qualifications.
- Hildebrand was the first of the two ECR Chevrolets to qualify, rolling out as the 11th car in line in his first laps since the morning accident. The 29-year-old’s first lap of 184.293 miles per hour vaulted him to the top of the standings and his second lap of 183.332 kept him there. Hildebrand’s first challenger came immediately in the next qualifier of Helio Castroneves, turning a lap that put him ahead of Hildebrand. Castroneves’s second lap was not as quick, shifting Hildebrand back to the top. Hildebrand’s two-lap average of 183.811 miles per hour would remain the quickest until the final qualifier of the day.
- It looked as though Hildebrand’s biggest competition would be Carpenter, whose first lap of 183.817 miles per hour in his No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet was just a hair faster than Hildebrand and left the ECR duo 1-2 momentarily. However, Carpenter had to lift when he got loose in Turn 4 and his second lap came in at 183.189. The 36-year-old’s two-lap average of 183.503 slotted him into 3rd behind teammate Hildebrand and fellow Chevrolet driver Castroneves.
- Will Power was the final and fastest qualifier today with a two-lap average nearly 1.5 miles per hour above Hildebrand’s attempt. Power’s run would bump Hildebrand to a starting spot on the outside of the front row, while Carpenter will start just behind in 4th. It is Hildebrand’s best qualifying effort of his Verizon IndyCar Series career, bettering a 3rd place starting position earlier this year at Phoenix Raceway. Carpenter matched his best qualifying attempt at Iowa Speedway as he also started 4th in 2013.
- One more half an hour practice session awaits the Verizon IndyCar Series field this evening, where Carpenter and Hildebrand will hone in their race set-ups. Additionally, both ECR drivers participated in a test at Iowa Speedway last week.
- Ed Carpenter Racing is the defending race-winning team at Iowa Speedway, returning with the goal of making it two in a row. In a dominating performance, Josef Newgarden secured the win for ECR in the 2016 Iowa Corn 300. Josef Newgarden secured the win for ECR in the 2016 Iowa Corn 300. Newgarden led 282 of the 300 laps in the No. 21, taking the lead on Lap 1 and relinquishing it only for green flag pit stops. It was ECR’s seventh victory since being formed only five years prior.
- The 2017 Iowa Corn 300 will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network with coverage beginning at 5 p.m. ET, featuring 300 laps around the .875-mile oval. It will be Hildebrand’s third start at Iowa Speedway and Carpenter’s tenth.
ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet), Qualified 4th: “It was tricky. I think you’re seeing from everyone that it’s a lot different out there from how we practiced earlier. Especially those early guys getting caught out by it, there just wasn’t the same grip. I messed up trying to adjust it and got big loose in Turn 4. It hurt my second lap; I thought it was going to be a pretty good lap. It has been a weird day. JR (Hildebrand) had an accident, now he’s sitting in a pretty good spot for tomorrow. We went a little conservative with him coming off the accident, but when I saw him go out I thought it might be a pretty good just based on the way the conditions were. Both ECR cars are strong and it’s good to see some Chevys up front. We’ll work on having a good practice tonight and be ready to go tomorrow.”
JR HILDEBRAND (No. 21 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet, Qualified 2nd): “So much credit to the team for giving me something I could be confident in out there. The first lap back out after the accident and we gotta go qualify the thing! After we crashed in Texas, the guys put the car back together without setting it up on the set up pad. We went back out in the middle of that race and it felt perfect, right on the money, so I will never question the guys getting the car back together again! The Fuzzy’s Vodka boys just did a great job. I feel good about where we qualified, obviously I would have liked to get the pole but I’m happy to be starting on the front row.”
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!