JR Hildebrand Leads ABC Supply 500 Before Accident Ends His Race Early

LONG POND, Penn. (August 20, 2017) – Race Notes

– Ed Carpenter has finished each of his races this year inside of the Top 12, continuing that trend today at Pocono Raceway. After an accident in first practice yesterday and being excluded from qualifying for the ABC Supply 500, Carpenter persevered and brought the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet home in the 12th position. Teammate JR Hildebrand led the 200-lap race, competing at the 2.5-mile triangular oval for the first time in his career. His day ended early after contact with James Hinchcliffe saw both drivers hit the Turn 1 wall. He was credited with a 19th place result.

– The weekend started off rough as Carpenter’s car stepped out on him entering Turn 3 in closing minutes of the first practice session yesterday. The car spun, with the left side making heavy contact with the wall. The extensive damage did not necessitate a change to the backup car and repairs began immediately on the original chassis. Despite the efforts of the crew, the fully-repaired No. 20 was six minutes late to the tech inspection line and was excluded from qualifying. Carpenter was forced to start from the back of the field for today’s 500-mile race started from the back of the 22-car field.

– Hildebrand struggled in qualifications as well, reaching a point where he was unable to make any more adjustments to the No. 21 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet from inside the cockpit. Without the speed he was hoping for, he erred on the side of caution and opted to bring the car home safely. His two-lap run gave him the 19th starting position when the green flag dropped today.

– Hildebrand was one of the cars able to go the longest on a tank of fuel, cycling him into the lead on Lap 57. The ABC Supply 500 was third race he has led this year, including the 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500 and the Iowa Corn 300. His strategy had him in the Top 5 again when the second caution of the day came on Lap 116. Since he had not yet made a pit stop during that stint, he had to give up the 5th position when he came into the pit lane. After the restart, Hildebrand was running 13th when he found himself alongside James Hinchcliffe. The two made contact on Lap 125 and both spun into the Turn 1 wall. Hildebrand’s day was done and he was credited with a 19th place result.

– Carpenter struggled with grip in the opening stages of the race, most notably in Turn 3. He was forced to run more downforce than was preferable, slowing the car down. Though the car was trimmed back out as the race progressed, Carpenter was often running alone on track and did not have the opportunity to move forward. The same yellow that caught out Hildebrand on Lap 116 helped Carpenter, who had already made a pit stop. After starting last, he found himself in the 8th position and with the lead pack. He settled into 12th for the remainder of the race, maintaining his position throughout his final two pit stops.

– Pocono Raceway was the penultimate race of Carpenter’s season, who completes exclusively in the oval events. The only owner/driver in the Verizon IndyCar Series has finished each of his races in the Top 12 this year, including a 7th place at the one-mile oval of Phoenix Raceway. Carpenter’s last race for 2017 will also be a short oval, this time at the 1.25-mile Gateway Motorsports Park outside of St. Louis. Carpenter has been able to test twice at Gateway this year.

– Hildebrand has scored podium finishes in both of the short oval races this year. He finished third at Phoenix, then topped that finish with a second place on Iowa Speedway’s .875-mile oval. Hildebrand will race alongside Carpenter at Gateway, then Spencer Pigot will take over the No. 20 for the final two road course events of the year.

– Ed Carpenter Racing will return to their Speedway, Ind. race shop tomorrow to continue preparations for next weekend’s Bommarito Automotive Group 500. Practice and qualifying at Gateway Motorsports Park will take place on Friday, August 25. NBC Sports Network will carry 248-lap race live with coverage beginning at 9 p.m. ET on Saturday, August 26.

ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet), Finished 12th: “We just couldn’t get it figured out this weekend. I crashed yesterday in practice, but we thought we made some gains in practice last night. We’ve had some okay runs here previously, but Turn 3 is where we struggled all weekend. We were pretty good in Turn 1, but for as much better as we were in 1, we were equally bad in 3. We tried a lot of things that had worked here before and even tried some new things, but it just turned into one of those races. We weren’t in the window today.”

JR HILDEBRAND (No. 21 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet), Finished 19th: “Heading down into Turn 1, it was two-wide for a couple of rows deep. I was on the outside and James (Hinchcliffe) was making a pass on the inside. When the guys in front of us spread out and went two-wide I started getting a big push on the outside and fed wheel-in, and it just hooked up. I went down and James was there. I’m annoyed for both of us. It was close racing there, we were getting towards the end of the race and it’s just a bummer for the Fuzzy’s Vodka team, but also for Hinchcliffe’s team.”