Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway
By: Kobe Lambeth
As previously announced, JR Hildebrand will return to the Indianapolis 500 with Ed Carpenter Racing as he will have another attempt at one of the most prestigious prizes in all of motorsports.
“It’s the holy grail, particularly for open-wheel guys but I think really for almost anyone on 4 wheels,” said Hildebrand.
“In doing it, you become aware of just how many ways there are to NOT win, how many things you have to not screw up, let alone things you need to do exceptionally well. But it’s for racing immortality, which makes it all worthwhile.”
The 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 is going to be an epic event. With Hildebrand joining a strong lineup of himself, Josef Newgarden, and Ed Carpenter, look for all three ECR entries to challenge the likes of Penske and Ganassi.
“I’ve had a great experience with Ed Carpenter and his team over the last two years, notching Top 10s in each of my efforts with the team at Indy,” said Hildebrand.
“I know from that experience that I can win in one of their cars, and I think they feel the same way. Last year we grew the program to include the Angie’s List GP, and we were looking to grow to even more races from there coming into 2016. Everyone was very much on board with that, but as often happens in racing, we had to manage some financial constraints and refocus on getting things at least just lined back up for the same program we ran last year. So it was an ongoing conversation since Indy last year that I’m very glad finally came together.”
Ed Carpenter Racing is looking to expand JR Hildebrand’s schedule, but will it be possible to add more races? Will Hildebrand return to IndyCar full-time in the immediate future?
“It’s difficult to say – it’s not been for lack of interest, it’s a conversation I have often with teams, but at the end of the day it comes down to funding in most of the situations that have existed recently,” Hildebrand responded.
“I’m confident based on the opportunities that I’ve discussed with people that I can be back racing full-time very soon.”
Although there is a lot of uncertainty about Hildebrand’s plans beyond the Indianapolis 500, he remains focused on the task at hand: winning the Indianapolis 500 and proving that he belongs in the series full-time.
“Well, I feel that I’m racing for a team that can definitely put a car on track capable of winning, with a good crew and good engineers,” said Hildebrand.
“So, my personal expectation is to have a shot at winning the race – we will prepare with that clearly in focus. I expect the race itself to be one of the most impressive events anyone has ever seen.”
2016 appears to be a special season in the making for JR Hildebrand and where he will head in his young racing career. If he is unable to return to IndyCar full-time soon, what will happen to the talented California-born open wheel racer?
“There’s a lot of interesting racing out there, from the WEC to Global RallyCross,” said Hildebrand.
“I’d jump in just about anything, and am looking forward to opportunities to do so over the coming year.”
This is just pure speculation, but how cool would it be to see an American sensation named JR Hildebrand to have the opportunity to drive in the FIA World Endurance Championship later this season in an American muscle car?
It was recently announced that Larbre Competition will run a driver evaluation program for potential future factory drivers for Corvette Racing. Could this possibly be Hildebrand’s ticket to sportscar racing as a future Corvette factory ace?
I hope to see JR Hildebrand return to IndyCar as a full-time driver, but it would very intriguing to watch him perform in a Corvette C7R on the world stage.