CLOSED PIT LANE TAKES AWAY JR HILDEBRAND’S CHANCE FOR TOP 10 FINISH IN MID-OHIO
Hildebrand Runs As High As 3rd, Finishes 17th After Yellow Closes Pits; Spencer Pigot Finishes 19th In Back Up Car
LEXINGTON, Ohio (July 30, 2017) – Race Notes
– JR Hildebrand looked to be on his way to a solid Top 10 finish today at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course when a late-race yellow flag closed the pit lane at the exact moment he needed to make his final stop. Forced to stop in closed pit for a splash of fuel, Hildebrand dropped to the rear of the lead lap and finished the Honda Indy 200 in 17th. Teammate Spencer Pigot took the checkered flag in 19th after completing the 90-lap race in a back up car.
– The day got off to a rough start for Pigot, who went off course in morning warm-up after hitting a curb in the final corner. He made heavy contact with a concrete barrier head-on, but was cleared and released from the infield care center. The damage to the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet was too substantial for trackside repairs, so the two Ed Carpenter Racing crews came together to prepare a back up car in a matter of hours for Pigot to use in the race.
– Pigot retained his starting position of 16th while Hildebrand rolled off 19th, both drivers beginning the race on primary black Firestone Firehawks. Because of that strategy, both were able to stay out longer than the drivers who chose to start the race on the alternate red tires. Pigot had cycled up to 10th at the time of his first stop, pitting on Lap 15 for a set of scuffed reds.
– A spin by Ryan Hunter-Reay after contact with Alexander Rossi on Lap 18 looked to have the potential to bring out a full-course caution, so Hildebrand quickly ducked into the pit lane while running 3rd. However, Hunter-Reay was able to continue and the anticipated yellow did not come. After a switch to sticker red tires, Hildebrand rejoined the race in 17th.
– It was a quiet second stint for both drivers, allowing Hildebrand to focus on fuel conservation. Both cycled forwards as the stint wore on and the leaders stopped. Pigot made his second stop from 15th on Lap 41, pitting for fuel and a set of sticker red tires. Hildebrand had climbed up to 7th and came into the pit lane on the following lap for a set of scuffed reds. Hildebrand re-entered the race in 12th while Pigot was relegated in 20th, directly in front eventual race winner Josef Newgarden. Pigot was able to run lap times consistent with Newgarden’s and remained in front of him and on the lead lap until Lap 62.
– Pigot made his third stop on Lap 64 for sticker black tires. Hildebrand was set to pit from 5th two laps later, but was trapped on track when a full-course caution closed the pit lane just before he was set to enter. He did not have enough fuel to wait until the pits opened and had to enter the closed pit lane for a splash. He completed his full stop for the remaining fuel and tires when the pits opened on Lap 68. At the same time, the No. 20 crew took advantage of the first caution of the day to replace Pigot’s rear wing, which had been damaged during contact at the beginning of the race. Pigot would remain in 20th.
– Because he took service in a closed pit, Hildebrand was forced to take the Lap 70 restart from the rear of the field. It was then discovered that the fuel probe had malfunctioned and Hildebrand had received less than half of the fuel he needed to make it to the end of the race. He was forced to pit again on Lap 71 to top off, but remained in the 17th position as all cars behind him were laps down to the leader.
– With his additional stop, Hildebrand re-entered the 2.258-mile course on his own and was able to simply run the race to completion. He would finish 17th, the position he dropped to after not being able to pit when needed. Pigot finished the race in 19th, one lap down to the leaders.
– The Verizon IndyCar Series will now enjoy a short break before heading to Pocono Raceway for the ABC Supply 500 on August 20. Team owner Ed Carpenter will step back into the No. 20 and join Hildebrand on track at the “Tricky Triangle.” The race will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network, beginning at 2 p.m. ET.
SPENCER PIGOT (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet), Finished 19th: “First of all, it was great to even make the start of the race. All of guys did an amazing job building up a spare car for me in just a few hours, so a huge thanks to them. As far as the race, we had some damage to the rear of the car at the start that really didn’t make it easy. Either way, I don’t think it was going to be our day. I’m frustrated with how it all went, but hopefully the 20 car guys can rebound in Pocono with Ed (Carpenter) and I’ll jump back in at Watkins Glen.”
JR HILDEBRAND (No. 21 Preferred Freezer Services Chevrolet), Finished 17th: “I’m just super frustrated and bummed for my Fuzzy’s Vodka guys! We started on blacks and were able to run long, then when we got on our first set of reds we were still running long and able to save fuel. I felt like I could have saved even more than I needed to! Everything was looking pretty good, then we sort of got hosed by our own success in a way. We had been saving fuel and were going longer than the cars around us; we basically got caught out by staying out too long. A yellow came out and we had to stop under a closed pit. Even just not making it in before that yellow would have put us all the way to the back of the lead lap anyway, but then, to add insult to injury, we had some sort of mechanical malfunction with the fuel probe and didn’t get all of the fuel in. We had to pit again under green and just cruised around on our own until the end. We can feel good about putting ourselves in a good spot and bouncing back from what was a pretty tough weekend all around. We’ve got a little bit of a break now, then we’ll see what we have in Pocono.”