- Less than six years ago, Ed Carpenter started a race team with support from Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka. This weekend at Watkins Glen International, Ed Carpenter Racing will compete in its 100th event. As it has for almost every one of the team’s first 99 races, the No. 20 will carry the colors of Fuzzy’s Vodka. Carpenter still drives the No. 20 on the oval events, while road and street course driver Spencer Pigot will be back behind the wheel this weekend. Over the years, the team has expanded to include a second Fuzzy’s Vodka car, the No. 21 now driven by JR Hildebrand. Pigot and Hildebrand will look to replicate ECR’s podium finish from last year’s INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen.
- The ECR team has their sights set on rebounding from two tough races at the ovals of Pocono Raceway and Gateway Motorsports Park. Watkins Glen is the third race in three weeks for the Verizon IndyCar Series and the penultimate round of the 2017 season. In the 2016 edition of the INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen, Josef Newgarden recorded a second place finish in the No. 21. Then-rookie Pigot ran in the Top 10 for the majority of only his ninth Indy car race, but had to settle for a 15th place finish in the No. 20 after being forced to save fuel in the closing laps.
- While the Verizon IndyCar Series did not have an event over the 4th of July weekend, Pigot competed in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen as part of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Pigot and his two co-drivers covered 200 laps of the 3.4-mile road course during the six-hour endurance race. The trio landed on the podium with a third place finish.
- Watkins Glen International has hosted ten Indy car races: 1979-81, 2005-10 and last year after the track returned to the schedule. Hildebrand, whose Verizon IndyCar Series debut was in 2011, has not yet competed at Watkins Glen in an Indy car. However, Watkins Glen was one of four Indy Lights races Hildebrand won in 2009 on his way to the capturing the championship.
- Pigot hopes the final two races of the year will bring results that match the speed he has shown in his sophomore season. Pigot has three Top 10 finishes and is credited with executing over 50 on-track passes for position, but has been caught out by a myriad of unfortunate circumstances throughout the year. While running 5th in St. Petersburg, a brake rotor ignited; a misfire of the engine following a pit stop in the INDYCAR Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway dropped him from 6th; and he had worked his way up to 8th at Road America when he had to make two lengthy pit stops for repairs to the front suspension. In Toronto, Pigot gained seven positions in the first 15 green flag laps but was relegated to the rear of the field following unscheduled pit stop after another competitor cut one of his tires.
- Hildebrand will look to add another solid result to a pair of podium finishes 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 3rd. He topped that performance midway through the season at Iowa Speedway when he led 40 laps and matched his career-best Indy car result with a 2nd place finish. Hildebrand also led this year’s Indianapolis 500 and the 500-mile race two weeks ago at Pocono Raceway.
- Ed Carpenter Racing’s 100th event also coincides with Chevrolet’s 100th race since returning to Indy car competition. ECR has been powered by Chevrolet engines since the team’s debut race, the 2012 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. That race also marked Chevrolet’s return to the Verizon IndyCar Series after a seven-year hiatus. Chevrolet drivers have combined to win 66 of 99 races run since then, with ECR netting seven of those victories.
- Practice for the INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen will take place on Friday, September 1 and Saturday, September 2. Qualifying will be shown via a tape-delayed broadcast on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. ET. The 60-lap race will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network on Sunday, September 3 at 1 p.m. ET.
SPENCER PIGOT (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet): “Watkins Glen has quickly become one of my favorite tracks. Last year was the first time I had ever been there and it’s easy to see why so many drivers love it. It’s incredibly fast and requires a ton of commitment. It’s been a tough few races for the Fuzzy’s Vodka crew so hopefully we can rebound this weekend and finish the season off with a few good results.”
JR HILDEBRAND (No. 21 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet): “Watkins Glen is the track where I had my most memorable win in Indy Lights, getting the “W” on the 4th of July on the way to the championship. It’s been a few years since I’ve raced at The Glen, so I’m excited to go back as we look to turn things around after a disappointing couple of weeks.”
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!