Mar 20, 2014, 3:41 PM EDT
From the “this makes so much sense we can’t believe it’s happening” department, Ed Carpenter Racing has signed JR Hildebrand to its second car for this year’s Indianapolis 500.
Hildebrand, whose second place in 2011 netted him that year’s Rookie-of-the-Year honors, will compete alongside Ed Carpenter in the team’s No. 21 Dallara-Chevrolet.
Commercial partners are yet to be determined but Hildebrand’s stock rose after his impressive performance in the season finale at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, where he nearly won in a cameo for Bryan Herta Autosport. Carpenter finished second that race in the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka entry.
“Ed’s team has been very strong on the ovals the past two years, including winning at Fontana and taking the pole position at last year’s ‘500,’” said Hildebrand, via IndyCar.com. “Working with Ed and his staff at Indy gives me a lot of confidence going into the world’s biggest race. I can’t wait to jump into the No. 21 Chevy and get back to the Speedway.”
Added Carpenter: “JR has been the Indy 500 Rookie of the Year and an Indy Lights champion, so his credentials are very impressive. It is great to have another American driver in the 500 this year and competing with ECR. We believe a second car at Indy will assist us in preparing for a strong performance in this year’s Indy 500.”
This marks the first time the third year team has expanded to a second entry for the Indianapolis 500. Additionally, it is the first confirmed “extra” Chevrolet entry to join the manufacturer’s 10 full-season entrants.
Carpenter will race the six oval races this year; Mike Conway the other 12 road and street races in the No. 20 car.