JR Hildebrand will reunite with Ed Carpenter and Preferred Freezer Services once again for this year’s Indianapolis 500.
The difference is, the American will be in the No. 6 CFH Racing Chevrolet this year, and it will be a month of May double shot. He’ll also race in the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis.
Last year it was the No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing entry, but ECR has now merged with Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing to form CFH, and the team’s third car, Josef Newgarden, will switch from No. 67 to No. 21 for the month of May.
It creates an all-American three-car lineup for the 500, with Carpenter in the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet and Newgarden in the No. 21 Century 21 Chevrolet. Italian Luca Filippi will of course be in the No. 20 car for the GPI earlier in the month.
“We are definitely looking forward to having Preferred Freezer Services back on the car,” Hildebrand said in a release. “We had a lot of fun with them in 2014 and we be rolling the polar bear back out into the garage area this year! Even though we were a one-off entry last year, we were very fast and had a really easy month. Preferred Freezer Services was a big part of that, they are a great group to work with and it’s going to make this year that much more exciting.”
Hildebrand tested with CFH in the offseason alongside Newgarden at Barber Motorsports Park.
“It was really great working with Ed last year at the 500 and I did a little bit of testing in the offseason with Josef, we got along really well,” Hildebrand said. “I expect the relationship that the three of us have to be potent and for us to have great communication. That’s such a huge piece, particularly at the 500, where there is so much practice, qualifying is so intense and we’ll have the new aero kits. You need every last ounce of speed you can get out of the cars for both qualifying and race day and we can all work together to reach that goal.”
Added Carpenter, “JR is a driver that we want to work with and it’s great to be able to team up with both JR and Preferred Freezer Services again for the Indy 500 and now the Grand Prix of Indianapolis.”
Mario Andretti’s last Formula One victory is also the last by an American driver in more than 42 years on the international open-wheel road racing series.
If you had told Andretti that while he was celebrating on the Grand Prix of the Netherlands podium on Aug. 27, 1978 at the Vandzoort circuit, he wouldn’t have believed it.
“Absolutely not,” Andretti told Kyle Petty during the most recent “Coffee With Kyle” episode (video above). “It’s a shame. Somehow we have so much talent here, and either there’s no invitation or something there. But I think it’s time to give some of this young talent that, in my opinion, is absolutely capable.”
The Dutch GP was the last of Andretti’s 12 victories in F1 and came during his championship season. No one since has come close to matching his success in F1.
Andretti’s son, Michael, took a full-time ride with McLaren in 1993 but left with three races remaining in a season marred by crashes and mechanical problems.
But Mario Andretti believes Andretti Autosport has another rising star with F1-caliber ability.
“Colton Herta is one that comes to mind,” Mario Andretti said. “As a young lad, his dad sent him to Europe, he was doing Formula 3, and he knows most of the circuits there. He’s trained. He’s showed in his rookie season and won some premium races at COTA (and Laguna Seca), beat two of the very best Indy has to offer (in) Will Power and Scott Dixon.
“This is one kid I’d love to see him get a break over there to fly the U.S. colors again.”
Herta, 20, seems interested in exploring an F1 leap over the next few years. After winning Sept. 13 at Mid-Ohio from the pole position (his third career victory in the NTT IndyCar Series), the No. 88 Dallara-Honda driver is ranked fourth in the standings in his sophomore year and regarded as one of the series’ top prospects.
If #F1 wants to start looking around for an American driver, Colton Herta has a suggestion for where that search should start. https://t.co/71PVeu6aBj
Herta recently told RACER.com “I’d love to give Formula 1 a crack” but said he also would be happy driving in IndyCar and IMSA.
A naturalized U.S. citizen who told Petty about spending several years with his family in an Italian refugee camp before coming to America, Mario Andretti said F1 brought an enormous sense of patriotic pride.
“Formula One is like the Olympics in a sense,” he said. “You’re in a different country, a different continent. When you earn that highest step of the podium, they play your national anthem. That’s when you take nothing for granted. You feel like I’m representing my country, and the proudest moments are those.
“I’d just like to see some other American drivers experience that. It’s time.”
During the “Coffee With Kyle” conversation, Andretti also discussed:
–His versatility as a winner in IndyCar, sports cars, NASCAR and Formula One;
–His 1967 Daytona 500 victory and how he enjoyed racing with crew chief Jake Elder at the famed Holman-Moody team;
–Why he delayed his entry to F1 for a few years because of his earnings power in IndyCar. “I always say I’d race for free, but at the same time, you’re thinking of family and the future,” he said. “It was in the back of your mind that you can’t give up the earning power of IndyCar. That kept me from going full time in Formula One, but I always said that sometime in my career, I’d have to devote a period to Formula One.”
–On what it was like racing in an era when driver deaths were more prevalent. “If you’re going to do this, you’re not going to dwell on those negatives,” Andretti said. “There’s no way. You knew it was present. Especially in the ‘60s at the beginning of the season at the drivers meetings, you couldn’t help but look around and say, ‘I wonder who is not going to be here at the end of the season.’ We’d lose four to five guys. In ’64, we lost six guys.
“It’s something if you dwell on that, you’re going to take on a different profession. It’s a desire and love to want to drive that overcame all that and then the confidence it’s not going to happen to me. And then you pray.”