Zach Veach will not have to wait until the Indianapolis 500 to make his Verizon IndyCar Series debut as the young American will deputise for the injured JR Hildebrand at this weekend’s third race of the season at Barber Motorsports Park.
Hildebrand injured his hand in the final stages of the previous round around the streets of Long Beach following a collision with Mikhail Aleshin, but has been ruled out of the round in Alabama, with Indy Lights race winner Veach stepping in.
Veach will race for AJ Foyt Racing in the Indianapolis 500 this year, but has previously tested for Ed Carpenter Racing, and is now looking forward to getting a taste of IndyCar racing with the team this weekend.
“First and foremost, my thoughts are with JR and his recovery, that’s the most important part of this!” said Veach. “My heart goes out to him as I suffered a broken hand a couple years ago and I wouldn’t wish that upon anyone.
“This isn’t how any driver wants to get his first race but with that said, I’m extremely thankful for the opportunity to sub for JR.
“Ed (Carpenter) gave me my first chance to test an Indy car a few months ago. It’s going to be very special for me to be back in that same car representing Fuzzy’s Vodka at Barber. It’s going to be a lot to take in, in a short amount of time, but I’m really excited to do the best I can for the team, as well as JR!”
Hildebrand admitted he was disappointed to miss out but revealed that he was forced to have surgery on his hand, and it is too much of a risk to race this weekend.
“This obviously is not how I had hoped this would play out, but I’ve done everything there was to do since surgery last Tuesday with good results,” said Hildebrand.
“It seems the risk is still too high given the initial extent of the injury. The doctors I’ve worked with have been awesome to get my fractures sorted out and I trust their view of the situation.
“I’m disappointed for the team to be out this weekend, but am looking forward to doing everything I can at Barber to help continue the progress we’ve made so far this year. I am continuing to rehab with maximum focus to be back in the saddle for Phoenix.”