- For the second week in a row, JR Hildebrand showed resilience by rebounding from an incident in the practice session preceding qualifying. Last week, he qualified on the front row at Iowa Speedway; this week, in the streets of Toronto, he earned his highest street course qualifying position of the season. Hildebrand will roll off from 12th in tomorrow’s Honda Indy Toronto while teammate Spencer Pigot matched his best qualifying effort of the year and will start 13th.
- After turning 72 laps across three practice sessions, Pigot held the 12th fastest time of the weekend. Each driver turned their fastest laps in Practice 3, a session that was cut short for Hildebrand after he made slight contact with the Turn 10 wall in the No. 21 Preferred Freezer Services Chevrolet. The crew brought the car back to the garage and quickly made repairs to the bodywork and suspension to be ready for qualifying.
- Both Hildebrand and Pigot were assigned to Group 1, Round 1 of qualifying, competing for the top six positions that would advance them to Round 2. The Ed Carpenter Racing teammates elected to begin on sticker red Firestone Firehawks. Each made a stop for an additional set of new red tires after completing three laps. At the end of the 10 minute session, Hildebrand was 5th while Pigot was 7th. Pigot’s fast lap of 107.593 miles per hour missed advancing to Round 2 by one hundredth of a second.
- For the first time in 2017, Hildebrand advanced to Round 2 of qualifications. He began Round 2 on a set of scuffed red tires, coming into the pit lane after three laps for sticker blacks. Unfortunately, he made contact with the wall at the exit of Turn 8 on his next lap and was unable to continue in the session. Because he brought out a red flag, Hildebrand lost his two fastest laps of Round 2; however, he would still be able to start 12th.
- Ed Carpenter Racing is familiar with success in the streets of Toronto, winning back-to-back races in 2014 and 2015. The team’s first 1-2 finish occurred at the conclusion of the 2015 Honda Indy Toronto, when Josef Newgarden held off teammate Luca Filippi to take the win. Mike Conway scored the victory in 2014 for ECR.
- Pigot, road and street course driver for the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet, has also enjoyed success in Toronto. He won both races of the 2015 Indy Lights doubleheader in the Canadian city, leading flag-to-flag in the second event. The victories were two of the six he collected on his march towards capturing the 2015 Indy Lights championship. The 2016 Honda Indy Toronto was only Pigot’s seventh Verizon IndyCar Series start.
- In his two previous starts in the streets of Toronto, Hildebrand scored Top 10 finishes in both. Hildebrand finished 8th in 2011, his rookie season, then followed it up with a 7th place the next year. The track configuration has changed since Hildebrand last raced in Toronto in 2012, now featuring 11 turns over a 1.75-mile street circuit.
- The 85-lap Honda Indy Toronto will be broadcast live tomorrow, Sunday, July 16, at 3 p.m. ET on CNBC. An encore broadcast will air at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Network.
SPENCER PIGOT (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet), Qualified 13th: “It’s a little frustrating to miss transferring again by such a small margin – a hundredth of a second! – but that’s the nature of Indy car racing. It’s always extremely close. We’ve made good progress with the car over the weekend, especially on black tires. Hopefully that will be the tire of choice for the race tomorrow. I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do with the Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevy!”
JR HILDEBRAND (No. 21 Preferred Freezer Services Chevrolet), Qualified 12th: “I’m happy to have advanced on to the second round of qualifying. That was definitely on our list of ways to improve through the second half of the season. It’s unfortunate that it’s taken us this long to do it, but it’s a step in the right direction! The car was quite good, I just made a mistake in the second round and got into the wall. I owe the Preferred Freezer guys some beers! Hopefully, we can maintain the trajectory of our weekend and get ready for a good race tomorrow.”
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!