Saturday’s Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis will be a little more crowded.
The usual 21-driver field has swelled to 25 drivers with the additions of Spencer Pigot, Matthew Brabham, Alex Tagliani and JR Hildebrand.
All have been announced earlier this year, but this weekend marks their first opportunity to impress in rare one-off opportunities.
“I can’t wait for the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis, not only because it’s my first time back in the car this season, but because I really enjoyed the track and event last year,” said Hildebrand, who will be driving the No. 6 Preferred Freezer Fuzzy Vodka Chevrolet. “It’s a great way to kick off the month.
“Even though the other guys will be coming in with a little more recent seat time, I expect to be competitive very quickly with a good car from the Ed Carpenter Racing boys.”
In theory, Brabham would have made his series debut in the 100th Indianapolis 500 on May 29.
But when the opportunity arose for Brabham to race one race earlier in the ALGPI, he jumped at it.
“It is hard to believe that I will be making my Indy car debut in the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis this week,” said Brabham, who will pilot the No. 61 PIRTEK Team Murray Chevrolet.
“To have a full-time Indy car career is the ultimate goal and this month is the next step in achieving that ambition. I think I am as ready I can be. … We want to have speed, but we also want to bank as much knowledge as we can on things like pit stops and communication before we head to the Indy 500.”
Tagliani, a noted road course expert, knows he has a little rust to shake off this weekend.
“It’s been three years since I’ve driven an Indy car on a road course of any kind,” said Tagliani, who will drive the No. 35 Alfe Heat Treating Special Honda. “The cars have changed – there is new downforce – and it will be challenging.
“I don’t want to raise expectations because just getting back in the groove and getting to know the car is going to be challenging. When the weekend is over, I’ll probably feel like I could’ve done better and would do better if I had another shot. But I’m thankful for the opportunity and will do my best for the Alfe Heat Treating/Foyt Racing team.”
The 22-year-old Pigot will be making his second career IndyCar start, having made his debut earlier this year in the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
“I’m very excited for my second Indy car race,” said Pigot, who will drive the No. 16 RLL/Mi-Jack/Manitowoc Honda. “Now that I have an idea of what to expect during an Indy car race weekend, I think I’ll be much better prepared.
“I’ve been spending a lot of time with the team at the races since St. Pete, picking their brains and learning as much as I can. The IMS road course hasn’t been great to me in the past (he finished seventh and 12th in last year’s two Indy Lights races at Indianapolis).
“We’ve been quick but always seem to get caught up in a Turn 1 incident, so hopefully that trend stops this year. I enjoy the layout of the track. It has some tricky sections that require patience and precision. There are a few good passing places as well, which should make for an exciting race.”