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TOP TEN FINISH FOR SPENCER PIGOT IN HIS FIRST TOYOTA GRAND PRIX OF LONG BEACH

Posted by Mike Cope on Apr 11, 2017 10:35:49 AM

JR Hildebrand Finishes 11th Despite Final-Lap Contact; Suffers Broken Bone In Left Hand

 

LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 9, 2017) - Race Notes 

Though neither had driven on Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach circuit in years, both Spencer Pigot and JR Hildebrand showed their prowess on the track. Pigot moved up 11 positions from his qualifying spot to finish 8th. Hildebrand was in contention for a Top 10 himself when a last-lap accident dropped him to 11th and left him with a broken bone in his left hand. 

  • Pigot last raced in Long Beach in 2015 in Indy Lights, but had never competed at the track in an Indy car. Hildebrand had not been on the street course in an Indy car since 2013. Pigot finished second in his race; Hildebrand had two Top 5 finishes in Verizon IndyCar Series races at the track in 2012 and 2013.
  • Yesterday’s qualifications did not go as smoothly as the team would have hoped for, with Hildebrand rolling off 15th in today’s race and Pigot in 19th. The first caution of the race came on Lap 1 and the Ed Carpenter Racing drivers immediately split onto separate strategies. Pigot came in for a splash for fuel when the pit lane opened while Hildebrand stayed out on the track. 

·        Hildebrand was 11th for the ensuing restart while Pigot was 15th. On Lap 11, Hildebrand brought his No. 21 Preferred Freezer Services Chevrolet into the pits, opting for a three-stop strategy. He had started the race on a set of black Firestone Firehawks, switching to the red tires during his stop.

  • Pigot was the highest-running Chevrolet driver in his first stint of the race, consistently in the Top 6. He made his first full-service stop on Lap 29, also switching to red tires after starting on blacks.
  • On Lap 30, Hildebrand radioed in that he had made contact with the rear of Graham Rahal’s car but did not feel that there was any damage to the front wing. On Lap 33, he made his second stop as he was within his pit window. The crew assessed the car during the stop and no damage was found. 
  • Pigot’s race was not without similar concern as he brushed the wall with the left side of the No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet on Lap 46. He too felt there was no damage to the car; a look at the telemetry confirmed he was correct. On Lap 57, he made what was his final stop of the race. He made his stop from the 8th position, opting to finish the race on a set of sticker black tires.
  • A full-course caution on Lap 63 for the stopped car of Alexander Rossi allowed Hildebrand to get back on the lead lap. He was in 14th for the restart six laps later, while Pigot ran 8th. 
  • Pigot was working his way around a lapped car on Lap 76 when Ed Jones and Carlos Munoz were able to get past him, dropping him from 8th to 10th.  
  • Another caution flag flew for the stopped car of Ryan Hunter-Reay and the race went back green with four laps to go. Pigot was running 8th and Hildebrand had moved up into the Top 10.
  • Just past the white flag on Lap 85, Hildebrand was working his way around Mikhail Aleshin heading into Turn 1. Aleshin moved slightly down on Hildebrand and braked early, causing Hildebrand to run over the left rear of Aleshin’s car. The steering wheel was ripped from Hildebrand’s hand before the car came to a stop in the Turn 1 runoff. Aleshin was penalized following a post-race review and the position was returned to Hildebrand, giving him an 11th place finish. After the race, Hildebrand visited INDYCAR Medical and was diagnosed to have a broken bone in his left hand. He will head to Indianapolis tomorrow for further evaluation.
  • Meanwhile, Pigot was able to hold off competitor behind him that were on on red tires and maintain his 8th place position. It was the third Top 10 finish of his young Verizon IndyCar Series career and first of 2017. While he finished second in the Indy Lights race on the 1.968-mile, 12-turn street circuit in 2015, he had never raced in Long Beach in an Indy car.
  • Both the No. 20 and the No. 21 sported new looks this weekend in Long Beach. Social media sensation Loki the Wolfdog was on the side of Pigot's No. 20, marking the first time a major social media influencer had been featured on an Indy car. Loki, with 1.4 million Instagram followers, visited Long Beach as a guest of Rising Star Racing. Hildebrand's No. 21 featured the familiar Preferred Freezer Services livery, recognizable as the same scheme he ran at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway the past two years. The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach is the first of four races for the white and blue scheme this season. 

·        Ed Carpenter Racing will head to Texas Motor Speedway for an open test this coming Wednesday, April 12. The next Verizon IndyCar Series race will take place at Barber Motorsports Park in two weeks on Sunday, April 23. 

SPENCER PIGOT (No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet), Finished 8th: "Overall, we have to pleased with the result, to be 8th after where we started! It was a bit of a shame to miss out on 6th, I thought we were there pretty comfortably. We just had a small issue coming out of the hairpin that allowed (Ed) Jones and (Carlos) Munoz to get past us. It was a good day, the guys did great with the pit stops as always. I have to thank them for all of their hard work, I wouldn’t have been able to finish this high without them. I am glad we were able to get a good result for Loki The Wolfdog and his followers!"

JR HILDEBRAND (No. 21 Preferred Freezer Services Chevrolet), Finished 11th: “We chose an alternate strategy for today. A lot of cars went with a three-stop strategy, but we couldn’t make it work. We didn’t have the pace and were stuck with each other, out there just running around. That was frustrating, not quite being able to run quick enough to have our plan play out properly. 

At the end of the race, we all were bunched back up because of that last yellow. I was on reds and had a little bit for at least the handful of cars in front of us. On the last lap, I was making a move on Mikael Aleshin and I could tell he was struggling. I was out of push-to-pass so I was trying to make a proper, full-out pass down he front straightaway. He had been starting to move over, not a major blocking maneuver but enough to assert his line. He hit the breaks a lot earlier than I was expecting and I ended up running into the back of him. In doing so, it ripped the steering wheel from my hand and I ended up tweaking it. At the end of the day, to come home with an 11th place finish isn’t terrible. It is a bummer though as we were certainly on our way to finishing in the Top 10 and now we are in a bit of a jam going forward. Hopefully I can get back to it here before the next race." 

  

Spencer Pigot scored his third Top 10 finish of his young Verizon IndyCar Series today in the Streets of Long Beach. He finished 8th in what was his first race in an Indy car on the downtown street circuit. 

  

JR Hildebrand finished 11th in his first Verizon IndyCar Series race in Long Beach since 2013, but suffered a broken bone in his left hand following a last-lap incident with Mikhail Aleshin. Aleshin was penalized one position post-race. Hildebrand will travel to Indianapolis tomorrow for further evaluation. 

 

About Ed Carpenter Racing
Ed Carpenter Racing (ECR) first entered the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2012. The team is led by IndyCar’s only owner/driver, Ed Carpenter, winner of back-to-back pole positions for the Indianapolis 500 in 2013 and 2014. ECR amassed seven victories and over 20 top five finishes in its first five years. In 2017, Carpenter will compete in all oval events in the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet while Spencer Pigot will take over at road and street course races. JR Hildebrand will compete for the Verizon IndyCar Series championship as he races the No. 21 Chevrolet throughout the entire season. More information on Ed Carpenter Racing may be found at www.edcarpenterracing.com. 

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MEDICAL UPDATE ON ED CARPENTER RACING DRIVER JR HILDEBRAND

Posted by Mike Cope on Apr 11, 2017 10:32:25 AM

LONG BEACH, Calif. (Sunday, April 9, 2017) – Ed Carpenter Racing driver JR Hildebrand suffered a broken bone in his left hand during an incident at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Hildebrand was entering the first turn on Lap 85 when his No. 21 Preferred Freezer Services Chevrolet made contact with the No. 7 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda driven by Mikhail Aleshin.

According to INDYCAR medical director Dr. Geoffrey Billows, Hildebrand will be re-evaluated upon his return to Indianapolis this week and has not been cleared to return to Verizon IndyCar Series competition.

“At the end of the race, we all were bunched back up because of that last yellow,” Hildebrand explained. “I was on reds and had a little bit for at least the handful of cars in front of us. On the last lap, I was making a move on Mikhail Aleshin and I could tell he was struggling. I was out of push-to-pass so I was trying to make a proper, full-out pass down he front straightaway. He had been starting to move over, not a major blocking maneuver but enough to assert his line. He hit the brake a lot earlier than I was expecting and I ended up running into the back of him. In doing so, it ripped the steering wheel from my hand and I ended up tweaking it. At the end of the day, to come home with an 11th place finish isn’t terrible. It is a bummer though as we were certainly on our way to finishing in the Top 10 and now we are in a bit of a jam going forward. Hopefully I can get back to it here before the next race.”

 

About Ed Carpenter Racing
Ed Carpenter Racing (ECR) first entered the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2012. The team is led by IndyCar’s only owner/driver, Ed Carpenter, winner of back-to-back pole positions for the Indianapolis 500 in 2013 and 2014. ECR amassed seven victories and over 20 top five finishes in its first five years. In 2017, Carpenter will compete in all oval events in the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Chevrolet while Spencer Pigot will take over at road and street course races. JR Hildebrand will compete for the Verizon IndyCar Series championship as he races the No. 21 Chevrolet throughout the entire season. More information on Ed Carpenter Racing may be found at www.edcarpenterracing.com. 

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ED CARPENTER RACING PREPARED TO TAKE ON THE STREETS OF LONG BEACH

Posted by Mike Cope on Apr 5, 2017 2:11:34 PM

 Historic Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach A Season Highlight for ECR Drivers  Hildebrand and Pigot

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PEAK Coolant and Motor Oil driver John Force races to semifinals of NHRA Nationals at Las Vegas

Posted by Mike Cope on Apr 3, 2017 1:28:26 PM

LAS VEGAS (April 2) – John Force raced to the semifinals of Sunday’s NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway but came up short of his second consecutive Funny Car final in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. 

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Monster Energy driver Brittany Force falls in NHRA Nationals quarterfinals in Las Vegas

Posted by Mike Cope on Apr 3, 2017 1:26:07 PM

LAS VEGAS (April 2) – Brittany Force and the Monster Energy Top Fuel dragster won a first-round matchup in Sunday’s NHRA Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway before falling to Leah Pritchett in the second round. 

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Rare mistake ends Las Vegas race for Auto Club driver Robert Hight

Posted by Mike Cope on Apr 3, 2017 1:22:54 PM

LAS VEGAS (April 2) – Robert Hight, widely regarded as one of the best Funny Car drivers in the sport, made a rare mistake on the starting line during the NHRA Nationals on Sunday at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

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Courtney Force, Advance Auto Parts team looking for consistency after upset loss in Vegas first round

Posted by Mike Cope on Apr 3, 2017 1:19:33 PM

LAS VEGAS (April 2) – After an upset loss in the first round of the NHRA Nationals on Sunday at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Courtney Force huddled with her Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro SS team to figure out a plan of attack moving forward.

Force, the No. 1 qualifier in Funny Car, stumbled in the first round against veteran Gary Densham, losing after a slowing pass of 5.118 seconds at 153.39 mph.

“It’s a bummer,” Force said. “Our Advance Auto Parts team has had some great runs, and we know the car is capable of running some stellar numbers. We’re having a hard time finding some consistency with it, especially being able to run it in the heat.

“So we’ll be back out here tomorrow testing all day in the heat to see if we can get the right tuneup going into the next race.”

Immediately after her run, Force and her team began working on a plan to make the Advance Auto Parts Camaro more consistent.

“When I got back to the pit, it was straight to the computer to figure out the problem with the car, what’s going on, how we can fix it and how we can move forward going into the next few races and what we’re going to try out for testing tomorrow,” Force said. “Then I headed out to the ropes to sign for the fans. They definitely help lift your spirits up after a rough day. I’ll be out there cheering on the rest of my teammates.”

Force and her team, led by crew chief Daniel Hood and Ronnie Thompson, will test here Monday. Force, who has qualified in the top four in all four NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series races in 2017, knows her team can dig itself out of the current rut.

“These guys do an amazing job, and I’m sticking by them,” Force said. “I know we can get this thing figured out. I’d rather get the bad luck out of the way now than when we’re in the Countdown.”

The Countdown to the Championship includes the final six races of the season and settles title battles in each of the four NHRA pro classes. Points are reset before the Countdown, meaning each of the top 10 drivers who reach NHRA’s playoffs have a shot at the championship. Force will maintain her spot inside the top 10 of the Funny Car points standings after Vegas.

The next race is the NHRA Spring Nationals at Royal Purple Raceway in Baytown, Texas, just outside Houston.LAS VEGAS (April 2) – After an upset loss in the first round of the NHRA Nationals on Sunday at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Courtney Force huddled with her Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro SS team to figure out a plan of attack moving forward.

Force, the No. 1 qualifier in Funny Car, stumbled in the first round against veteran Gary Densham, losing after a slowing pass of 5.118 seconds at 153.39 mph.

“It’s a bummer,” Force said. “Our Advance Auto Parts team has had some great runs, and we know the car is capable of running some stellar numbers. We’re having a hard time finding some consistency with it, especially being able to run it in the heat.

“So we’ll be back out here tomorrow testing all day in the heat to see if we can get the right tuneup going into the next race.”

Immediately after her run, Force and her team began working on a plan to make the Advance Auto Parts Camaro more consistent.

“When I got back to the pit, it was straight to the computer to figure out the problem with the car, what’s going on, how we can fix it and how we can move forward going into the next few races and what we’re going to try out for testing tomorrow,” Force said. “Then I headed out to the ropes to sign for the fans. They definitely help lift your spirits up after a rough day. I’ll be out there cheering on the rest of my teammates.”

Force and her team, led by crew chief Daniel Hood and Ronnie Thompson, will test here Monday. Force, who has qualified in the top four in all four NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series races in 2017, knows her team can dig itself out of the current rut.

“These guys do an amazing job, and I’m sticking by them,” Force said. “I know we can get this thing figured out. I’d rather get the bad luck out of the way now than when we’re in the Countdown.”

The Countdown to the Championship includes the final six races of the season and settles title battles in each of the four NHRA pro classes. Points are reset before the Countdown, meaning each of the top 10 drivers who reach NHRA’s playoffs have a shot at the championship. Force will maintain her spot inside the top 10 of the Funny Car points standings after Vegas.

The next race is the NHRA Spring Nationals at Royal Purple Raceway in Baytown, Texas, just outside Houston.

 

Photo credit: Gary Nastase and Auto Imagery

 

About John Force Racing

 

John Force Racing, Inc., based in Yorba Linda, Calif., and Brownsburg, Ind., is a professional sports dynasty, one that has earned 18 NHRA championships and claimed 250 professional victories in Funny Car (247) and Top Fuel (3). Led by team owner and driver John Force, a 16-time Funny Car Champion, 1996 Driver of the Year for all of American motor racing, 2011 International Motorsports Hall of Fame inductee, and driver of the PEAK Coolant and Motor Oil Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car, JFR is additionally comprised of Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet Camaro SS driver Robert Hight, 2009 Funny Car champion and 2005 NHRA Rookie of the Year; Advance Auto Parts Chevrolet Camaro SS driver Courtney Force, 2012 NHRA Rookie of the Year; and Monster Energy Top Fuel Dragster driver Brittany Force, 2013 NHRA Rookie of the Year. For more information, please visit johnforceracing.com.

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John Force Racing's 2,500th Funny Car round winanother milestone in team's stellar history

Posted by Mike Cope on Mar 22, 2017 12:41:07 PM

BROWNSBURG, Ind. (March 21) – John Force’s Funny Car victory Sunday in the NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla., was memorable for many reasons, including yet another milestone over the team’s 40-year existence in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.

After winning all four rounds, and coupled with Robert Hight’s first-round victory, the team achieved the 2,500-round victory threshold for Funny Cars. Force’s final-round win over rookie Jonnie Lindberg sealed the deal.


JFR’s first round victory was June 1, 1979, when Force defeated Tom McEwen at the Cajun Nationals in Baton Rouge, La. Force himself has accounted for just over half of those 2,500 Funny Car round victories, as he now stands at 1,269, with six round wins this season. He defeated Del Worsham, Jack Beckman, and Tommy Johnson Jr. before beating Lindberg on Sunday.


Even more impressive is that JFR’s 2,500 NHRA Funny Car round wins account for more than 20 percent of wins all-time in the class.


“It was the reign of terror that started it all, with Austin Coil, Bernie Fedderly and John Medlen,” Force said. “It was really about a group of guys – it wasn’t about me. I just wrote the checks, but I got to drive one of the baddest hot rods on the planet. We won just about everything.


“But those days are gone now. John Force wants to stay in the game, and now we’ve got Robert Hight, my daughter Courtney, young Austin Prock is coming,” he continued. “I’m really excited about this. We put the band back together. Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones said life’s a drag, but today, life’s not a drag – it’s a drag race, and we won.”


Winning races and elimination rounds is one of the things John Force has done best. Overall, nine drivers have won Funny Car rounds with JFR. The total includes:
  • John Force 1,269
  • Robert Hight 375
  • Tony Pedregon 292
  • Courtney Force 134
  • Mike Neff 118
  • Gary Densham 108
  • Ashley Force Hood 105
  • Eric Medlen 95
  • Phil Burkart Jr. 4

Hight added to his total Sunday, besting Bob Tasca III in the first round with career-bests in time and speed, and has two round wins this season. Courtney Force won her first three rounds of the season at Pomona, making it to the final round.


“It’s amazing, but what’s really amazing is when you look at who has most of those wins,” Hight said. “John Force’s records – he’s so far out in front of everybody else – it’s not even achievable. With the competition level and everything else there is today, these records we keep getting will never, ever be broken. I was lucky enough to get the 200th victory for John Force Racing at Topeka (2011), and that was pretty exciting."


To do it at Gainesville, Hight said, was special. In the 1990s, for example, Force participated in 37 rounds out of a possible 40, and won 33 of those 40 rounds. He just kept winning ... and winning ... and winning.


“He’s had good luck at Gainesville,” Hight said. “But I take away from this that all three of our Funny Cars are running good, and we’re not searching for faster cars but right where we want to be. We just need to get a little consistency. I’m just happy to be a little part of those 2,500 round wins. We have three good cars now, and we’re going to get a lot more wins.”


The milestone is more than just a number. It represents tireless efforts by drivers, crew chiefs, team members, fabricators, shop workers, and office staff who have worked with Force since the 1970s.


“If you look at the Tony Pedregons that drove for me, the Eric Medlens, the Gary Denshams, Robert Hight, my girls – if you go down that list, they were all part of that. It wasn’t just about me," Force said. "I’ve done well in the sport, because I’ve lived it and loved it. I give 110 percent to my sponsors, never 100 percent. We overdeliver, you have to.


“With the cast of characters we have, we’re going to keep hitting them with all we’ve got."


The team earned its 2,500th round victory across all NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series classes last year. Including the team’s Top Fuel dragster – piloted by Brittany Force and sponsored by Monster Energy – the team’s round victory total stands at 2,593. Brittany Force added another Top Fuel round victory Sunday, and stands at 93 in her career.


The fourth round of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, the NHRA Nationals, is March 31-April 2 at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Nevada. John Force Racing has won five races at the spring race in Las Vegas, most recently with John Force running the table in 2015.
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PEAK Chevy driver John Force takes Gatornationals, gives John Force Racing 2,500th Funny Car round win

Posted by Mike Cope on Mar 20, 2017 1:49:16 PM

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 19) – He may have been serenading the tune “Singin’ in the Rain,” but John Force was winning under the Florida sunshine Sunday in a perfectly-tuned PEAK Motor Oil and Coolant Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car.

The 16-time NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series champion earned his record-extending 148th career victory and eighth in the NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway. Force defeated rookie Jonnie Lindberg – competing in his first Funny Car race – in a solid final-round matchup, giving John Force Racing its first victory of 2017 and first since last year’s fall race at Las Vegas.

Force exited his PEAK Chevrolet after winning and broke into the popular tune “Singin’ in the Rain.” “I found the music,” he said.

“I’ve lived on music in my old Chevy,” Force said. “I can remember when I was 15 years old driving around without a driver’s license and the music carried me. Every day, the Beach Boys, Merle Haggard. I lived that life and you find yourself.

“I don’t go to a race without believing I can win,” continued Force, the day after recording his 155th No. 1 qualifying spot. “The day I don’t believe I can win, then it’s time for me to quit. It’s like a rollercoaster ride and I’m still a kid driving that ’54 Chevy listening to the Beach Boys, and I found the music. They are going to be sorry I found the music, trust me.”

The 67-year-old hadn’t won at the Gatornationals since 2001, breaking a 16-year drought, which set yet another NHRA record. But there are better ones he set as well:

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PEAK Chevrolet driver John Force heads to Gainesville seeking 8th Gatornationals wally

Posted by Mike Cope on Mar 15, 2017 3:38:00 PM

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 14) – John Force hopes to relive past success this weekend as he and his PEAK Coolant & Motor Oil Chevrolet Camaro SS team head to the NHRA Gatornationals, the third stop on the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series schedule.

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