Everything you need to know for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte

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After Formula One races through the streets of Monaco in the morning and IndyCar takes on the Indianapolis 500 in the afternoon, NASCAR will host the nightcap in Sunday’s tripleheader of big races with the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Last year’s 600 took a turn for the bizarre when a guide rope for an overhead TV camera came loose and fell onto the track, injuring multiple fans and damaging some cars as well.

At the end of the night, Kevin Harvick won out after taking the lead from Kasey Kahne on the final restart with 11 laps remaining.

Courtesy of NASCAR’s public relations and statistics teams, here’s everything you need to know going into Round 12 of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship.

CHARLOTTE-SPECIFIC STATISTICS

Greg Biffle (No. 16 Fastenal Ford)
· Five top fives, eight top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 17.0
· Average Running Position of 14.6, sixth-best
· Driver Rating of 91.4, sixth-best
· 302 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most
· 1,296 Green Flag Passes, 10th-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 176.139 mph, sixth-fastest
· 3,891 Laps in the Top 15 (60.4%), seventh-most
· 689 Quality Passes (passes of cars in the top 15 under green), eighth-most

Kurt Busch (No. 41 Haas Automation Made In America Chevrolet)
· One win, six top fives, seven top 10s
· Average finish of 18.9
· Driver Rating of 84.7, 10th-best
· 204 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most
· 3,434 Laps in the Top 15 (53.3%), 10th-most

Kyle Busch (No. 18 M&M’s Toyota)
· Nine top fives, 12 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 15.9
· Average Running Position of 9.7, second-best
· Driver Rating of 107.5, second-best
· 452 Fastest Laps Run, third-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 176.928 mph, second-fastest
· 5,106 Laps in the Top 15 (79.3%), second-most
· Series-high 923 Quality Passes

Carl Edwards (No. 99 Fastenal Ford)
· Five top fives, 11 top 10s
· Average finish of 11.8
· Average Running Position of 14.7, eighth-best
· Driver Rating of 89.8, seventh-best
· 1,463 Green Flag Passes, second-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 175.970 mph, 10th-fastest
· 4,007 Laps in the Top 15 (62.2%), sixth-most
· 735 Quality Passes, fifth-most

Jeff Gordon (No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet)
· Five wins, 16 top fives, 22 top 10s; nine poles
· Average finish of 16.0
· Average Running Position of 15.1, ninth-best
· Driver Rating of 88.8, eighth-best
· 219 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 176.189 mph, fifth-fastest
· 3,855 Laps in the Top 15 (59.9%), eighth-most
· 700 Quality Passes, seventh-most

Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota)
· Four top fives, 10 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 13.2
· Average Running Position of 12.3, fourth-best
· Driver Rating of 93.4, fifth-best
· 220 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 176.102 mph, seventh-fastest
· 4,488 Laps in the Top 15 (74.3%), third-most
· 725 Quality Passes, sixth-most

Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe’s Patriotic Chevrolet)
· Six wins, 12 top fives, 16 top 10s; three poles
· Average finish of 11.6
· Series-best Average Running Position of 7.8
· Series-best Driver Rating of 111.1
· 621 Fastest Laps Run, second-most
· 1,292 Green Flag Passes, 11th-most
· Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 176.938 mph
· Series-high 5,588 Laps in the Top 15 (86.8%)
· 922 Quality Passes, second-most

Kasey Kahne (No. 5 Farmers Insurance / ThankAMillionTeachers.com Chevrolet)
· Four wins, nine top fives, 12 top 10s
· Average finish of 11.4
· Average Running Position of 11.3, third-best
· Driver Rating of 102.6, third-best
· Series-high 662 Fastest Laps Run
· 1,432 Green Flag Passes, third-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 176.273 mph, third-fastest
· 4,462 Laps in the Top 15 (69.3%), fourth-most
· 814 Quality Passes, third-most

Matt Kenseth (No. 20 Home Depot Husky Toyota)
· Two wins, eight top fives, 15 top 10s
· Average finish of 13.8
· Average Running Position of 13.9, fifth-best
· Driver Rating of 96.0, fourth-best
· 363 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most
· 1,362 Green Flag Passes, seventh-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 176.211 mph, fourth-fastest
· 4,250 Laps in the Top 15 (66.0%), fifth-most
· 785 Quality Passes, fourth-most

Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Miller Lite Ford)
· One win, two top fives, two top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 16.3
· Average Running Position of 16.1, 11th-best
· Driver Rating of 83.0, 12th-best
· Average Green Flag Speed of 175.869 mph, 12th-fastest

Joey Logano (No. 22 Pennzoil Platinum Ford)
· Three top fives, six top 10s
· Average finish of 10.4
· Average Running Position of 14.7, seventh-best
· Driver Rating of 87.3, ninth-best
· Average Green Flag Speed of 175.981 mph, ninth-fastest

Tony Stewart (No. 14 Bass Pro Shops / Mobil 1 Chevrolet)
· One win, six top fives, 13 top 10s; one pole
· Average finish of 13.8
· Average Running Position of 15.9, 10th-best
· Driver Rating of 83.6, 11th-best
· 189 Fastest Laps Run, 10th-most
· 1,360 Green Flag Passes, eighth-most
· Average Green Flag Speed of 176.088 mph, eighth-fastest
· 3,124 Laps in the Top 15 (51.2%), 11th-most
· 610 Quality Passes, 10th-most

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Charlotte Motor Speedway History
· Construction began on Charlotte Motor Speedway (CMS) in 1959.
· The track’s first NASCAR Sprint Cup race was held on June 19, 1960 – won by Joe Lee Johnson.
· The track was repaved midseason in 1994.
· The track name changed from Charlotte Motor Speedway to Lowe’s Motor Speedway in 1999. It changed back to Charlotte Motor Speedway for the 2010 season.
· The track was re-paved again before the 2006 season.

Charlotte Motor Speedway Notebook
· There have been 110 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points races at Charlotte Motor Speedway, two races per year since the track opened in 1960. In 1961, there were two 100-mile qualifying points races held the week before the May race. The first six fall races at Charlotte were 400-mile events (1960-65).
· 520 drivers have competed in at least one NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points paying race at Charlotte Motor Speedway; 371 in more than one. 427 drivers have competed in Coca-Cola 600; 285 in more than one.
· NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty leads the series in starts at Charlotte with 64. Terry Labonte leads all active drivers with 57 starts; followed by Mark Martin with 56. Bill Elliott has made the most Coca-Cola 600 starts with 31; Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers in 600 starts with 21.
· Fireball Roberts won the inaugural Coors Light pole at Charlotte Motor Speedway (World 600) in 1960 with a speed of 133.904 mph.
· 41 drivers have Coors Light poles at Charlotte, led by David Pearson with 14. Ryan Newman and Jeff Gordon lead all active drivers in poles at CMS with nine.
· David Pearson and Ryan Newman are tied for the series most Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Sprint Cup Coors Light poles with six each; followed by Jeff Gordon with five.
· 12 drivers have won consecutive Coors Light poles at Charlotte. David Pearson holds the record for most consecutive poles at Charlotte with 11; from the fall of 1973 through 1978.
· Jeff Gordon won five straight Coca-Cola 600 poles at Charlotte between 1994 and 1998.
· Youngest Charlotte pole winner: Jeff Gordon (10/10/1993 – 22 years, 2 months, 6 days).
· Oldest Charlotte pole winner: Bobby Allison (10/11/1987 – 49 years, 10 months, 8 days).
· 45 different drivers have won at Charlotte Motor Speedway, led by Darrell Waltrip, Bobby Allison and Jimmie Johnson with six wins each.
· 30 different drivers have won the Coca-Cola 600, led by NASCAR Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip with five; Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne lead all active drivers with three each.
· Nine drivers have posted consecutive wins at Charlotte Motor Speedway, including three consecutive by Fred Lorenzen (fall 1964 and both 1965) and four straight by Jimmie Johnson (both in 2004 and 2005).
· A season sweep at Charlotte has occurred eight times, including each season from 2004-2007.
· Seven times from seven different drivers has the winner of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star race gone on to win the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway: Darrell Waltrip (1985), Davey Allison (1991), Dale Earnhardt (1993), Jeff Gordon (1997), Jimmie Johnson (2003), Kasey Kahne (2008) and Kurt Busch (2010).
· Youngest Charlotte winner: Jeff Gordon (05/29/1994 – 22 years, 9 months, 25 days).
· Oldest Charlotte winner: Cale Yarborough (10/06/1985 – 46 years, 6 months, 9 days).
· Hendrick Motorsportshas the most wins at Charlotte in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series with 17: Jimmie Johnson (six), Jeff Gordon (five), Darrell Waltrip (two), Ken Schrader (one), Terry Labonte (one), Casey Mears (one) and Kasey Kahne (one).
· Eight different manufacturers have won in the NSCS at Charlotte; led by Chevrolet with 41 victories; followed by Ford with 29. Chevrolet also has the most Coca-Cola 600 wins at 22.
· 14 of the 110 (12.7%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Charlotte have been won from the Coors Light pole; the two most recent were Jimmie Johnson in 2004 (Coca-Cola 600) and 2009 (fall event).
· The second-place starting position is the most proficient starting position in the field, producing more winners (17) than any other starting position at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
· 31 of the 110 (28.1%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Charlotte have been won from the front row: 14 from the pole and 17 from second-place.
· 83 of the 110 (75.4%) NASCAR Sprint Cup races at Charlotte have been won from a top-10 starting position.
· Nine of the 110 (8.1%) NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Charlotte have been won from a starting position outside the top 20.
· The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at Charlotte was 37th, by Jimmie Johnson in the Coca-Cola 600 of 2003.
· Richard Petty leads the series in runner-up finishes at Charlotte with nine. Kasey Kahne and Matt Kenseth lead all active drivers with three.
· NASCAR Hall of Famers Richard Petty and Bobby Allison are tied for the series most top-five finishes at Charlotte with 23. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 16.
· Richard Petty leads the series in top-10 finishes at Charlotte with 31. Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with 22.
· Ryan Newman leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average starting position at Charlotte with a 7.038.
· Joey Logano leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in average finishing position at Charlotte with a 10.400.
· Joe Nemechek leads the series among active drivers with the most NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Charlotte without visiting Victory Lane at 35; followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr. with 28.
· Since the advent of electronic scoring the closest margin of victory (MOV) in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Charlotte Motor Speedway was the May 29, 2005 race won by Jimmie Johnson over Bobby Labonte with a MOV of 0.027 second.
· There have been three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races resulting with a green-white-checkered finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway, but only once for the Coca-Cola 600 (Scheduled No. of Laps/Actual No. of Laps): fall of 2005 (334/336), fall of 2007 (334/337) and the 2011 Coca-Cola 600 (400/402).
· Five of the 110 races at Charlotte Motor Speedway have been shortened due to weather conditions; the most recent was the 2009 Coca-Cola 600 won by David Reutimann and Michael Waltrip Racing. Four of the five races shortened were the 600-mile events (1968, 1997, 2003 and 2009).
· Qualifying has been cancelled due to weather conditions in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Charlotte Motor Speedway twice; the fall race of 2002 and the fall race of 2008.
· Seven NASCAR Sprint Cup Series active drivers have made their first career start at Charlotte Motor Speedway: Michael Waltrip (5/26/85), Elliott Sadler (5/24/98), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (5/30/99), Jimmie Johnson (10/7/01), Brian Vickers (10/11/03), David Reutimann (10/15/05) and Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (5/29/11).
· Four active drivers have posted their first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coors Light pole at Charlotte Motor Speedway: Jeff Gordon (10/10/93), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (5/28/00), Ryan Newman (5/27/01) and Aric Almirola (5/27/12).
· Four active NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers have posted their first career win at Charlotte Motor Speedway: Jeff Gordon (5/29/94), Matt Kenseth (5/28/00), Jamie McMurray (10/13/02) and Casey Mears (5/27/07).
· Jimmie Johnson leads all active drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in laps led at Charlotte with 1,569 laps led in 25 starts.
· Two female drivers have competed at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series:
Janet Guthrie
1976 – Coca-Cola 600, Started 27th, Finished 15th; National 500, Started 26th, Finished 22nd.
1977 – National 500, Started 27th, Finished 9th.
1978 – National 500, Started 31st, Finished 35th.
Danica Patrick
2012 – Coca-Cola 600, Started 40th, Finished 30th.
2013 – Coca-Cola 600, Started 24th, Finished 29th; Bank of America 500, Started 35th, Finished 20th.

NASCAR in North Carolina
· There have been 518 NASCAR Sprint Cup races among 28 tracks in North Carolina.
Charlotte Motor Speedway, Concord – 110
North Wilkesboro Speedway, North Wilkesboro – 93
Rockingham Speedway, Rockingham – 78
Hickory Speedway, Hickory – 35
Asheville-Weaverville Speedway, Weaverville – 34
Occoneechee Speedway, Hillsboro – 32
Bowman-Gray Stadium, Winston-Salem – 29
Southern States Fairgrounds, Charlotte – 17
Charlotte Speedway, Charlotte – 12
Concord Speedway, Concord – 12
Wilson Speedway, Wilson – 12
New Asheville Speedway, Asheville – 8
Dog Track Speedway, Moyock – 7
Raleigh Speedway, Raleigh – 7
Cleveland County Fairgrounds, Shelby – 6
Champion Speedway, Fayetteville – 4
Greensboro Agriculture Fairgrounds, Greensboro – 3
North Carolina State Fairgrounds, Raleigh – 3
Tar Heel Speedway, Randleman – 3
Forsyth County Fairgrounds, Winston-Salem – 2
Harris Speedway, Harris – 2
Jacksonville Speedway, Jacksonville – 2
Tri-City Speedway, High Point – 2
Gastonia Fairgrounds, Gastonia – 1
Harnett Speedway, Spring Lake – 1
McCormick Field, Asheville – 1
Salisbury Super Speedway, Salisbury – 1
Star Lite Speedway, Monroe – 1

· 431 drivers in NASCAR national series history have their home state recorded as North Carolina.
· 46 drivers from North Carolina have won at least one race in NASCAR’s three national series; 28 have won in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

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Social roundup: Media day at Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach

Photo: IndyCar
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The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach is still more than a week away, but Media Day was in full swing on Tuesday with a number of attractions for fans and media in attendance.

That being said, it’s easier to get all the pre-advance work done before cars from six different series hit the track starting on Friday, April 7. The Long Beach IndyCar race airs on April 9 at 4 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

The day began with Team Penske’s Josef Newgarden fielding interviews with the local L.A. affiliates for NBC, Fox, and ABC before being a attending a midday luncheon. He also did various interviews with other outlets.

There were also a number of opportunities for rides around the 1.968-mile street circuit. IndyCar drivers Zach Veach and Gabby Chaves were in charge of the Verizon IndyCar Series two-seater while Scott Pruett manned driving duties in a two-seat version of his Lexus RC F GT3. Rocky Moran Sr. and Jr. also held demo rides of their own around the circuit in a Camry; James Sofronas took folks for rides in a GMG Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R.

Formula Drift was on hand as well, though their days were spent preparing for the event. Several cars made practice runs along Seaside Way and through turns 9, 10, and 11 of the circuit.

The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach is slated for April 7-9, with first practice for the Verizon IndyCar Series rolling off at 1:00 p.m. local time on Friday April 7.

INDYCAR reveals next round of design for 2018 common aero kit

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After the initial renderings of the 2018 common aero kit were released in January at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, questions then turned to when INDYCAR would release the next round of what the future of the single kit would look like.

The date was something of a moving target, without a set time piece either just before or just after the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season began with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 12.

That being said, today marks the arrival of round two of what the new kit will look like, revealed first on IndyCar.com. The timing works well as it’s just after St. Petersburg but before Round 2, the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, which runs April 9 at 4 p.m. ET on NBCSN to kick off the NBC Sports Group’s coverage portion of the season.

In today’s release, INDYCAR is still yet to confirm the supplier of the new common aero kit. But the car’s development remains on track to be revealed in the flesh this summer before a mid-summer testing debut.

Rendering courtesy of INDYCAR

“While this remains a work in progress, we are encouraged with where the development of the 2018 car stands,” Jay Frye, INDYCAR president of competition and operations, said in the release. “The look of the car is bold, the performance data from simulations is meeting targeted goals and safety enhancements built into the design will be substantial.”

Tino Belli, INDYCAR director of aerodynamic development, explained the design process with a focus on producing more downforce from the underside of the car rather than on top, addressing driver feedback.

“We’ve been working on the aerodynamics to suit the look, rather than the other way around,” Belli said in the release.

“We’re working on creating more of the downforce from the underwing,” Belli said. “The hole in the floor (of the undertray on this year’s car) will be sealed for the road courses and short ovals, but will still be open for the superspeedways.”

While aerodynamic targets and additional safety enhancements are set to include side impact structures in the sidepods and repositioned radiators, with turbocharger inlets moving to the inside of the radiator inlet ducts, no word was given today in terms of a windscreen or other cockpit protection enhancement device which has been rumored but not officially confirmed to be part of the 2018 kit. Belli said in the release that INDYCAR has achieved “97 percent” of its goals from developing the new car’s look and efficiency.

Of note, INDYCAR announced long-term contract extensions with four key partners, Dallara, Chevrolet, Honda and Firestone, at St. Petersburg, which was great news for the series but perhaps overshadowed in the kickoff to the new season. It further pushed the development of Frye’s much-mentioned “five-year plan” for the series.

Just because the base Dallara DW12 chassis remains as the tub does not necessarily mean it will be Dallara as the common kit supplier. Dallara’s Stefano De Ponti, director of the company’s U.S. operations, did say how much it has meant to the company to be celebrating its 20th year with INDYCAR during the St. Petersburg announcement.

“Dallara came here in 1997. That has marked the Dallara presence in North American motorsports. It was an important step,” De Ponti said at St. Petersburg.

“Obviously the plant, facility, engineering center we built in Indianapolis was, for the most part of it, obviously to support our program here as a partner with IndyCar.

“I personally wish, yes, that the extension will go beyond the set extension we have so far. We would like to be very, very clear, to be trustful and a supported partner of IndyCar as a manufacturer.

“Obviously, as an engineering company, we like competition, of course. We welcome everything that IndyCar decides to do with us for the future.

“At the end of the day, we want to be, and we are committed, to work with IndyCar for the benefit of the series. That would benefit all of us.”

Comedian Adam Carolla makes pro racing debut in Trans Am

Adam Carolla pilots the No. 33 GoShare Corvette at Willow Springs International Raceway. Photo: Burtin Racing
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As the host of such shows as CarCast, Ace on the House, and Adam Carolla and Friends Build Stuff Live, and with a massive classic car collection to boot, funnyman Adam Carolla is an unapologetic gearhead who is well-versed in the car industry. He even made a documentary honoring Paul Newman in recent years. However, he recently took his love of all things automotive one step further: he contested his first professional car race.

He joined the Burtin Racing team, which fields Corvette C7.Rs in the Trans Am presented by Pirelli West Coast Championship, at California’s Willow Springs International Raceway for the High Desert Challenge, the season opener for Trans Am’s 2017 season. He piloted their No. 33 GoShare entry as a teammate to Richard Wall, who signed as a last-minute entrant for team’s the No. 7 machine.

Carolla was not daunted by the challenge. He quickly came to grips with the 850-horsepower beast and qualified a solid fifth for the 100-mile feature. In the race itself, he worked his way up to third before facing a tough challenge from Trans Am veteran and former champion Greg Pickett, who previously ran the Muscle Milk Pickett Racing effort in the American Le Mans Series and IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

Photo: Burtin Racing

However, Carolla was unfazed by Pickett’s advance and he held off the former champion to claim third, not far behind teammate Wall, who crossed the line in second. Tomy Drissi won the event in the No. 8 Ghost in The Shell Chevrolet Corvette.

For Carolla, simply contesting the Trans Am event was an honor. “For me, Trans Am has always been huge,” said Carolla, who earned the COOLSHIRT Systems “Cool Move of the Race” award for his performance.

“I have old Trans Am cars from the 70’s and 80’s. I have some 2.5 (liter) Trans Am cars from the 70’s and I have Paul Newman cars that were raced in Trans Am. So just the idea of being asked to race in the modern Trans Am was a huge honor. Just being able to hold my own in modern Trans Am was exciting to me.”

Team owner Claudio Burtin was ecstatic with Carolla’s performance. “I think we all have to take our hat off to Adam Carolla on his debut in Trans Am,” he said of Carolla. “This is a fast and difficult track at Willow Springs, and the team is ecstatic with Adam’s podium finish. GoShare is thrilled with the results and we will work to improve one step higher on the podium next time.”

The Trans Am presented by Pirelli West Championships resume action on April 29-30 at Auto Club Speedway.

Preferred Freezer Services expands partnership with Hildebrand, Ed Carpenter Racing

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Preferred Freezer Services, which has been a sponsor of Ed Carpenter Racing and driver J.R. Hildebrand since 2014, is set to expand its partnership with both driver and team. Hildebrand’s No. 21 Chevrolet with sport the white and blue Preferred Freezer Services livery at four races during the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season, the first being at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 7-9. The expansion also includes the entire month of May, which will see the brand on the No. 21 for the INDYCAR Grand Prix and the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500. They will return as a primary sponsor for the Honda Indy Toronto in July and will be an associate sponsor throughout the season.

“Preferred Freezer Services was a big part of helping me get to running just the Indy 500 with ECR the first year in 2014. We’ve been fortunate to see the program grow and help it expand over the last few years,” Hildebrand said of the relationship. “I’m really excited to be able to continue that partnership and have them on board for a few more races this year! It is great to work with these guys again and I can’t wait to kick it off at such an awesome event as Long Beach.”

As Hildebrand explained, the partnership between sponsor, driver and team dates back to 2014, when Preferred Freezer Services adorned a then one-off No. 21 entry for Hildebrand, incidentally his first start for Ed Carpenter Racing. They expanded their partnership in 2015, adorning Hildebrand’s entry at that year’s Grand Prix of Indianapolis and Indy 500. Their presence grew even more last year, when they appeared on the cars of Hildebrand and Josef Newgarden at both races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Hildebrand has finished in top ten in the last three Indianapolis 500 mile races. However, his best finish remains his infamous second place at the 2011 race, in which he crashed in the final corner while leading, which yielded victory to Dan Wheldon.