JR Hildebrand returning for Indy 500 in fourth car for AJ Foyt Racing

AJ Foyt Hildebrand Indy
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INDIANAPOLIS — JR Hildebrand has a new team and an old-fashioned look for this year’s Indy 500 with AJ Foyt Racing.

On Thursday, Foyt announced the team had hired the California native to drive the No. 1 ABC Supply Chevrolet as the team’s fourth driver in IndyCar’s biggest race. And the candy apple red nose, trimmed with black stripes over a white body may look awfully familiar to longtime race fans.

It’s the same paint scheme Foyt used to claim the first of his record-tying four 500 victories in 1961.

“At my age, I don’t get too excited anymore, but I’m thrilled to see this car painted like my ’61 car,” the 86-year-old team owner said in a team release.

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“That win was so special because it was my dream just to be good enough to make the race. To win it three years later, well, I was thrilled to death about it. They were all sweet victories but to win that first one after where I came from, it was unbelievable.”

The No. 1 actually belongs to the defending series champion, New Zealand’s Scott Dixon who drives for Chip Ganassi Racing.

But the team owner is lending the number to Foyt this May, making the throwback car possible.

Hildebrand’s crew will honor the victory, too, by wearing uniforms modeled after the 1961 crew, headed by George Bignotti who helped steer a record seven cars reach victory lane.

It’s also a big deal for Hildebrand, 33.

“The fact that I’ll be running a livery honoring A.J.’s first win 60 years ago is just an incredible thing to be a part of,” he said. “I’ve tried to bring a little history into at least some element of my 500 gigs over the last few years – in ’18 we ran a 66 that was designed based on the car Jim Clark ran his lone NASCAR start with, in ’19 we ran Dan Gurney’s 48, and last year we designed the 67 on our car from the numbers that were on Joe Leonard and Graham Hill’s 1968 turbine cars – but this definitely takes it to a whole new level.”

He will attempt to make an 11th consecutive 500 start alongside four-time series champion Sebastien Bourdais, Dalton Kellett and Charlie Kimball – his new teammates. Hildebrand drove for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing the last three years.

His best finish came as a rookie in 2011 when he lost the lead after crashing on the final turn of the race. His damaged car skidded across the yard of bricks in second place, behind the late Dan Wheldon.

Hildebrand posted three more top-10 finishes – in 2014, 2015 and 2016 – but hasn’t been higher than 11th since then. He qualified sixth with Ed Carpenter Racing in 2017 and finished 16th last year after starting from the No. 32 spot on the 33-car starting grid

“Being able to sign a quality driver like JR will add another source of valuable feedback to our team which is especially important given the talent-packed Indy 500 entry list this year,” said Mike Jost, chief operating officer of the company.

Qualifying for the May 30 race is May 22-23.

Santino Ferrucci will drive No. 14 for AJ Foyt Racing full time in 2023 IndyCar season

Santino Ferrucci AJ Foyt
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Santino Ferrucci will return to full-time racing in the NTT IndyCar Series next season, joining AJ Foyt Racing.

Ferrucci had made eight IndyCar starts with three teams since his last full-time season in 2020 while also racing part time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this year.

He will drive the storied No. 14 Dallara-Chevrolet for four-time Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt’s team, which will field the car from its Waller, Texas headquarters.

“It’s incredibly exciting to be back in the INDYCAR Series full time,” Ferrucci said in a team release. “Being a part-time driver over the last two years has been hard for me, personally. I’m a race car driver, and I want to compete. Working with different teams has been exciting, and I’m proud that no matter which car I’ve raced, I’ve always shown speed and consistency. I couldn’t be more excited to join AJ Foyt Racing in the 14 Chevy. I can’t wait to make the best of it.”

Ferrucci, 24, had finished a career-best fourth in IndyCar four times, including the 104th Indy 500 in 2020. He was the 2019 Indy 500 rookie of the year with a sixth.

In nine Xfinity starts since 2021, Ferrucci has a career-best finish of 13th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“I am thrilled to welcome Santino to the team,” Larry Foyt said in a release. “He’s shown a knack for getting toward the front of the field, and I think he is a racer who moves forward on race day. A.J. sees the fire in him and has enjoyed their meetings together. I think Santino’s experience will help his rookie teammate as well, so he is a great addition to our roster.”

Ferrucci will be teamed at AJ Foyt Racing with Benjamin Pedersen, who finished fifth in the 2022 Indy Lights standings. The team has yet to specify the number for Pedersen’s entry, which will be fielded out of its Indianapolis race shop.

Foyt’s two full-time drivers last season were Dalton Kellett and Kyle Kirkwood, who is moving to Andretti Autosport.