- The second of two 500-mile races on the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series calendar awaits Ed Carpenter Racing’s drivers this weekend at Pocono Raceway. JR Hildebrand and team owner Ed Carpenter will take on the 2.5-mile, three-turn triangular oval nicknamed “The Tricky Triangle” in Long Pond, PA on Sunday, August 20.
- In 2013, the Verizon IndyCar Series returned to Pocono Raceway for the first time since 1989. Carpenter has competed in each race since, with a highest qualifying position of 10th last year and a best finish of 9th in 2013. Hildebrand, whose last full-time season prior to this year was 2012, has not yet competed at Pocono. 2017 will mark the 24th year of Indy car racing at the track nestled in the Pocono Mountains.
- Last year’s ABC Supply 500 was just over a quarter of the way to completion when Carpenter radioed in that his No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet had lost power. He coasted in from Turn 2, bringing the car to a stop in his pit box on Lap 57. The electrical failure was deemed terminal and Carpenter exited the car, credited with a 21st place. The sister No. 21 Fuzzy’s Vodka car, then driven by Josef Newgarden, finished 4th after starting on the outside of the front row.
- The last time Carpenter and Hildebrand competed in a 500-mile race, they were at the 2.5-mile oval of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Carpenter qualified 2nd for the 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500, giving ECR their 4th front row start in the past five years. Hildebrand earned the best qualifying position of his career at Indianapolis and started 6th. Both drivers led laps in the event; when Carpenter took the lead, 2017 became the 10th year in a row in which he has led a Verizon IndyCar Series race.
- Hildebrand has collected solid results at the majority of the oval races this season. In addition to leading the Indianapolis 500, he scored podium finishes at two of the four oval races so far this year. Just 20 days removed from breaking a bone in his left hand in a last-lap incident at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, Hildebrand turned 250 laps under the lights at Phoenix Raceway and raced his way to a 3rd place finish. Last month at Iowa Speedway, he topped that performance when he matched his career-best Indy car result and finished 2nd.
- Pocono will be the penultimate race of Carpenter’s season, who competes exclusively in the oval events. The only owner/driver in the Verizon IndyCar Series has finished no worse than 12th in his four races so far this year, including a 7th place at Phoenix. In addition to his front row start at Indianapolis, he also qualified 4th at Iowa. Carpenter has been quick throughout the year, recording the fastest lap times in practice sessions at Indianapolis and Texas Motor Speedway and the second-fastest lap in final practice at Iowa.
- The design of each of Pocono’s three turns draws inspiration from different race tracks. Turn 1 is modeled after New Jersey’s Trenton Speedway (closed in 1980), Turn 2 mimics the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Turn 3 is comparable to the Milwaukee Mile. The 2017 ABC Supply 500 at “The Tricky Triangle” will air live on NBC Sports Network, beginning at 2 p.m. ET on Sunday, August 20.
ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet): “I have always really enjoyed racing an Indy car at Pocono. It’s such a challenging track that requires a lot of work to get the right setup on the car. While we’ve had good cars there in the past, good results have eluded us. It’s my second-to-last race of the year, so I’m hopeful we can get the finish we have been working towards!”
JR HILDEBRAND (No. 21 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet): “I’m excited to put my first laps in around Pocono and just really looking forward to getting back on track! Pocono’s a very unique place that I know can be pretty tough, so I’m anxious to get out there and work with the team. Hopefully, we’ll put together another solid weekend at an oval race!”
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!