Hildebrand feeling pressure ahead of full-time return

JR Hildebrand knows the pressure is on him to perform in 2017 - Credit: Joe Skibinski / IndyCar

JR Hildebrand is happy to be back in a full-time ride in the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2017 with Ed Carpenter Racing, but admits there is some pressure on his shoulders as he replaces Team Penske-bound Josef Newgarden.

For the first time since 2013, Hildebrand has a full-time drive in his hands with only one-off drives at the Indianapolis 500 in recent years, but the young American knows that Newgarden took the #20 machine to race victories during his time with the squad, and as a result the pressure is on his own shoulders to perform.

“I’m just really looking forward to making good on a great opportunity,” said Hildebrand on Motorsport.com. “Being in the situation that I’ve been in – going from fulltime to not being fulltime any more – it’s not an opportunity that a lot of guys have to get back to being fulltime.

“So there’s definitely a little sense of urgency for me personally to show that was the right move for the team and that we’re all heading in the right direction.

“But I feel good about that, knowing that I’m stepping into a great situation, with a team that’s had a high level of success over the last couple of years. There’s a lot of familiarity for me at ECR which makes a big difference but we’ve also got some fresh blood on the engineering side, guys who I’m really honestly excited about working with.”