Verizon IndyCar Series Headlines:
1. NOLA Race Added to de Silvestro’s Slate
2. CFH Racing Adds Hildebrand for Indianapolis Events
3. Of Note:
* Penske Drivers Shine in Debut Events
* Happy Birthday Rookie
1. NOLA race added to de Silvestro slate: Initially announced as a one-race entry, Simona de Silvestro will compete this weekend in the inaugural Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana.
The 75-lap race on the 2.74-mile, 13-turn NOLA Motorsports Park road course in Avondale, La., is April 12 (2:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN).
In support of the local community, de Silvestro will be carrying Ochsner Health System’s branding and the Racing For Kids logo on the car. She will be part of Racing For Kids’ visit to patients at Ochsner Hospital for Children on April 9.
De Silvestro, the Verizon IndyCar Series’ 2010 Sunoco Rookie of the Year, qualified 11th in her first race since September 2013 and finished 18th.
“It’s great to get another shot in the car and improve on everything we learned in St. Petersburg,” de Silvestro said. “I’m really looking forward to being able to work with everyone again and hopefully have a better race.”
Andretti Autosport confirmed April 2 that de Silvestro would drive the team’s fifth entry for the 99th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race. It will also field an entry for Justin Wilson in addition to its regular entries for defending Indianapolis 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Carlos Munoz.
“She proved herself both on and off the track. The great thing about Simona is that she keeps her head down and continues to push – she fights hard. We’re happy to be able to bring her back for another round before the Indy 500,” team owner Michael Andretti said.
2. CFH Racing adds Hildebrand for Indianapolis events: JR Hildebrand will reunite with old friends and double his fun next month when he drives in the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis and the 99th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race for CFH Racing.
Hildebrand was announced today as driver of the No. 6 Preferred Freezer Services CFH Racing Chevrolet Dallara, the team’s third entry for the two Verizon IndyCar Series events at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He will drive alongside teammates Josef Newgarden and Luca Filippi for the May 9 Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis on the IMS road course and join Newgarden and Ed Carpenter in the CFH stable for the Indy 500, set for May 24 on the famed 2.5-mile oval.
Hildebrand, 27, teamed with Carpenter in last year’s Indy 500 for Ed Carpenter Racing, which merged in the offseason with Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing to form CFH Racing. Carpenter won the Indy 500 pole, while Hildebrand qualified ninth and finished 10th. It also marks the second straight year Hildebrand will ride with sponsorship from Preferred Freezer Services, the New Jersey-based operator of temperature-controlled, cold-storage warehouses around the globe.
“It was really great working with Ed last year at the 500 and I did a little bit of testing in the offseason with Josef; we got along really well,” said Hildebrand, aiming for his fifth Indy 500 start with a best previous finish of second in 2011. “I expect the relationship that the three of us have to be potent and for us to have great communication. That’s such a huge piece, particularly at the 500, where there is so much practice, qualifying is so intense and we’ll have the new aero kits. You need every last ounce of speed you can get out of the cars for both qualifying and race day, and we can all work together to reach that goal.”
Hildebrand, who will make his first start on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn IMS road course for the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis, emphasized its importance to the team’s chances of success throughout the month.
“To have the Grand Prix (of Indianapolis) added onto the 500 program is great,” he said. “Having a race under our belts going into the 500 is a huge difference from a one-off scenario. It can be tough sometimes when you have guys who haven’t done pit stops as a group during a race and you don’t have that chemistry yet. It will be great for my team of guys to have a warmup heading into the oval race and great for me to get back in a car on a road course.”
3. Of note: Penske drivers shine in debut events: Current Team Penske drivers have won the last four Verizon IndyCar Series debuts at new venues: Simon Pagenaud won on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in 2014, Will Power won at Baltimore in 2011 and Sao Paulo in 2010 and Helio Castroneves won at Barber in 2010. … Happy birthday rookie: KV Racing Technology’s Stefano Coletti turned 26 on April 6. Coletti’s car will be sponsored by Louisiana based oil field rental tool company, Variable Bore Rams, Inc. in the Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana.