Photo Credit: The Press Democrat
Since Josef Newgarden departed Ed Carpenter Racing for Team Penske, JR Hildebrand will be his replacement for the 2017 season in the #21 car, as the team has announced that he will be their full-time driver.
Hildebrand, 28, last drove in the Verizon IndyCar Series in the 2016 Indianapolis 500, where he finished in 6th place. He has not had a full-time ride in the series since the 2012 season, when he finished in 11th place in the championship standings, his career high. He was the 2011 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year with a career high 2nd place finish, and he was the 2011 IndyCar Rookie of the Year runner-up to James Hinchcliffe having finished in 14th in the championship standings.
Despite not having had a full-time for the past four seasons, Hildebrand has driven in every Indianapolis 500 since his rookie season in 2011. In those six Indianapolis 500 races, he has finished in the top 10 on four occasions, with his best finish being 2nd place in 2011. Ironically, that 2011 race ended up being one of the most heartbreaking finishes in IndyCar history, with Hildebrand as the opposite of the beneficiary.
Hildebrand is known to be more of an oval driver than a road and street course driver. However, nine of his career 15 top 10 finishes have come on road and street courses, so his ability to drive well at all types of courses will fit in well in next year’s schedule that includes 11 road and street course races and six oval races.
HERE you can see a Q&A with JR Hildebrand that was done by this site back in May, where Hildebrand talked about how getting a full-time ride in IndyCar was his goal.