JR Hildebrand Qualifies 15th for Saturday Night’s Bommarito Automotive Group 500

MADISON, Ill. (August 25, 2017) – Qualifying Notes

– Ed Carpenter recorded one of his best qualifying efforts of the season tonight for what will be his last race of 2017. Carpenter, who competes exclusively on the ovals, will start 5th in tomorrow night’s Bommarito Automotive Group 500, the final oval event of the year. JR Hildebrand qualified 15th for the first Verizon IndyCar Series race at Gateway Motorsports Park since 2003.

– Carpenter and Hildebrand spent the first and only practice session before qualifying learning the newly-repaved 1.25-mile oval as neither have competed in a Verizon IndyCar Series race at Gateway before. Carpenter’s Indy car debut came in the 14th round of the 2003 season; Gateway was the 11th round that year.

– Hildebrand was the second of the 21 cars entered in tomorrow’s race to qualify. His two lap average of 182.499 miles per hour was over two miles per hour faster than his quickest lap in practice. The No. 21 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet will roll off 15th in Saturday night’s 248-lap race.

– Carpenter was at the other end of the qualifying line, as the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet was seventeenth out. He also substantially improved over his best practice time of 180.999 miles per hour as his a two-lap average was 184.528 miles per hour. Carpenter will start fifth in his first Indy car race at Gateway Motorsports Park and his last race of this season.

– Setting the cars up for tomorrow night’s race was the primary focus of tonight’s final one hour of practice, but the speed was still present. Both ECR cars ended the session inside the Top 10, with Carpenter setting the second fastest lap and Hildebrand with the eighth fastest lap.

– Hildebrand has reached the podium at both of the short oval races this season. 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 in his No. 21 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet at the one-mile oval of Phoenix Raceway and raced his way to 3rd. Last month, he topped that performance at Iowa Speedway’s .875-mile oval 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 last weekend’s 500-mile race at Pocono Raceway.

– Carpenter has finished in the Top 12 in all five of his races this year, including a 7th place at Phoenix. Carpenter qualified 2nd for the 101st Running of the Indianapolis 500 in the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet, giving ECR their 4th front row start in the past five years. When Carpenter took the lead of the 500, 2017 became the 10th year in a row in which he has led a Verizon IndyCar Series race. Carpenter has been quick throughout the season, recording the fastest lap times in practice sessions at Indianapolis and Texas Motor Speedway and the second-fastest lap in final practice at Iowa and tonight at Gateway.

– NBC Sports Network will broadcast the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 live on Saturday, August 26 at 8 p.m. CT (9 p.m. ET).

ED CARPENTER (No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet), Qualified 5th: “We’re all still learning about this track! The first practice, that’s all we were doing – just trimming and trimming, trying to go quicker. We missed on the gears in practice too, so we knew there was time left in the car coming into qualifying. Team Penske was just a little more aggressive than us when it came down to qualifying.”

JR HILDEBRAND (No. 21 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet), Qualified 15th: “It’s been a little bit tough just to hit the downforce level. The track is really good since they repaved it, we undershot on how fast we could go even at the trim level we were at! This morning’s session was super hectic, everyone was running around in the draft and it was hard to see where you were at. The Fuzzy’s Vodka boys did a really good job, the car feels really good. We’ll be in good shape for the race.”