Ed Carpenter Racing Drivers JR Hildebrand and Spencer Pigot Turn Focus To Tomorrow’s 85 Lap Race
LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 8, 2017) – Qualifying Notes
The starting lineup has been set for the 43rd Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach and Ed Carpenter Racing drivers will have 85 laps to move their way forward during tomorrow’s race. JR Hildebrand will roll off 15th while Pigot will be two rows behind in 19th.
Qualifying groups are set by times from the third practice session. Pigot set the 16th-best time of this morning’s 45 minute session while Hildebrand was 20th. Both were assigned to Group 1 of Round 1 of qualifications.
The drivers in Group 1 had 10 minutes to set a lap fast enough to advance them to the second round of qualifications. Pigot started the session on a set of brand new red Firestone Firehawks, while Hildebrand opted for the blacks.
Hildebrand stopped his No. 21 Preferred Freezer Services Chevrolet after two timed laps to switch to a set of sticker red Firehawks. He vaulted up to as high as second on the leaderboard but dropped to 8th by the end of the session. A fast lap of 104.499 miles per hour will place him on the Inside of Row 8 in the 15th position.
After three laps on his set of reds, Pigot made a pit stop to switch to a second set of sticker reds. His fastest lap of 104.427 miles per hour in the No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet had him 10th on the speed chart. and will have him rolling off from the 19th position on the Inside of Row 10.
Both the No. 20 and the No. 21 are sporting new looks this weekend in Long Beach. Social media sensation Loki the Wolfdog is on the side of Pigot’s No. 20, marking the first time a major social media influencer has been featured on an Indy car. Loki, with 1.4 million Instagram followers, is in town as a guest of Rising Star Racing. Hildebrand’s No. 21 features the familiar Preferred Freezer Services livery, recognizable as the same scheme he ran at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway the past two years. The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach is the first of four races for the white and blue scheme this season.
Though Pigot is now a veteran driver in the Verizon IndyCar Series after completing his rookie season in 2016, the 1.968-mile, 12-turn street circuit is one track he has not yet competed on in an Indy car. He improved over each practice session, dropping a second off of his time on each outing.
Yesterday’s first practice session was Hildebrand’s first time back in an Indy car on the Long Beach course since 2013. He has three previous starts in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, including 5th place finishes in both 2012 and 2013. He won the Indy Lights race in Long Beach in 2009 in his championship-winning season.
ECR won the 2014 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach with Mike Conway behind the wheel of the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet. It was the team’s first of three wins that seasons and it’s first on a street course. The Speedway, Ind.-based team began competing in the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2012 and has earned seven victories in it’s first five seasons.
Tomorrow’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network, beginning at 4 p.m. ET.
SPENCER PIGOT (No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet), Qualified 19th: “Throughout the weekend, I’ve just been trying to get better. Both with improving the car and also improving some things that I have been working on. It is a tough track! We made some progress in the practice this morning, but when we put the re tires on in qualifying it just wasn’t there for us. We will go back and look at everything and focus on getting better for tomorrow.”
JR HILDEBRAND (No. 21 Preferred Freezer Services Chevrolet), Qualified 15th: “The car is actually pretty good. This morning, we ended up running a little longer on tires than other guys and were still able to maintain our lap times. I feel like the car will be solid in the race tomorrow and hopefully we can take advantage of the right opportunities along the way. We’re not that far off from being able to pick able to pick off a few guys for a single-digit finish. That is definitely in play for us, so that’s what we’re going to shoot for.”