JR Hildebrand is to make a full-time return to the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2017 after signing to replace the Team Penske-bound Josef Newgarden at Ed Carpenter Racing.
The twenty-eight-year-old steps into the #21 machine having spent the past three seasons running partial schedules with the team, including the past three Indianapolis 500’s where he has finished tenth, eighth and sixth.
Hildebrand has also been the go-to guy when Ed Carpenter needed a test driver, especially when Newgarden was out injured following his high speed crash at Texas last season, and would have stepped into the seat should he have been ruled out.
“Honestly, I just couldn’t be more ready to get started!” said Hildebrand. “I’ve been close to, but still outside of, this role for long enough to really understand and embrace the opportunity to be back in the Verizon IndyCar Series full-time.
“The relationship I’ve had with Ed Carpenter and ECR has honed my determination to get back in the seat because of how confident I feel in what we could do together. Now, I’m here to make it happen. I feel like I’ve got something to prove and can’t think of a better place to do it.”
Carpenter is delighted to sign Hildebrand to his team, and whilst he himself will return to the #20 ECR machine for the oval races, a driver for the #20 on the road and street courses have yet to be announced.
“We first started talking about this in 2013 and the timing has just now worked to give JR an opportunity to show what he can do with a full-time ride,” said Carpenter. “The job that he has done for the team each time we have put him in a car the past three years has proven to us that he is the right man for the job.
“Whether it has been his role with the team during the past three 500s or the testing he has done for us over the past two years, he consistently shows he deserves a full-time opportunity. I am confident that JR will shine in the 21 car and that ECR will continue to post the results we have grown to expect.”