Image  —  Posted: November 16, 2016 in Uncategorized

Tony’s Final Ride …

Posted: November 16, 2016 in Uncategorized

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(SPEEDWAY, Ind.) November 4, 2016 – After serving as an integral part of the Ed Carpenter Racing organization over the past three years during the Month of May, JR Hildebrand will return to full-time Indy car competition in 2017. The 28-year-old has joined ECR as the driver of the No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet for the entirety of the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season.

“Honestly, I just couldn’t be more ready to get started!” stated Hildebrand. “I’ve been close to, but still outside of, this role for long enough to really understand and embrace the opportunity to be back in the Verizon IndyCar Series full-time.”

Hildebrand continued, “The relationship I’ve had with Ed Carpenter and ECR honed my determination to get back in the seat because of how confident I feel in what we could do together. Now, I’m here to make it happen. I feel like I’ve got something to prove and can’t think of a better place to do it.”

jr-hildebrandThe Sausalito, Calif. native began karting at age 14. After winning the 2009 Indy Lights championship, Hildebrand raced full-time for Panther Racing in 2011 & 2012. Hildebrand joined Ed Carpenter Racing for the 2014 Indianapolis 500, the first time the team expanded to two cars. In his only race of the year, Hildebrand finished 10th. He returned in 2015, running both the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis and the Indianapolis 500. His 8th place finish in the 500 was the best of ECR’s 3-car effort.

ECR brought Hildebrand in for both races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2016, where he finished 6th in the Indianapolis 500 – his best result since a runner-up in his rookie year of 2011. When Josef Newgarden was injured during the race at Texas Motor Speedway in June, Hildebrand instantly stepped into assume testing duties of the No. 21 throughout the summer. One week after Hildebrand refined the setup of the car testing at Iowa Speedway, Newgarden won after leading 282 of 300 laps.

Team owner Ed Carpenter remarked, “We first started talking about this in 2013 and the timing has just now worked to give JR an opportunity to show what he can do with a full-time ride. The job that he has done for the team each time we have put him in a car the past three years has proven to us that he is the right man for the job.”

“Whether it has been his role with the team during the past three 500s or the testing he has done for us over the past two years, he consistently shows he deserves a full-time opportunity,” Carpenter declared. “I am confident that JR will shine in the 21 car and that ECR will continue to post the results we have grown to expect.”

Formed in late 2011, ECR entered the Verizon IndyCar Series full-time in 2012. Over the past five seasons, ECR has scored seven wins. The team has proven its versatility by winning on each type of track the series competes on – street and road courses, short ovals and speedways. Carpenter captured back-to-back pole positions at the 2013 and 2014 Indianapolis 500s and Newgarden started in the middle of the front row in 2016. The Speedway, Ind.-based team has 21 Top 5 finishes to date, 15 of which have been podiums.

Outside of racing, Hildebrand has a passion for using motorsports to inspire students in STEM subject areas, recently working on a virtual reality project to create Indy car-focused educational programming. In early 2016, Stanford University appointed Hildebrand as an adjunct lecturer, where he primarily works with the Stanford Revs Program developing autonomous vehicle technology. Hildebrand was accepted into MIT out of high school, but deferred admission to pursue a career as a professional racecar driver. Carpenter’s call offering the No. 21 seat was the perfect wedding gift for Hildebrand, who married longtime girlfriend Kristin Paine on October 23. The newlyweds reside in Boulder, Colo.

Hildebrand will be joined by Carpenter, the only owner/driver in the Verizon IndyCar Series, during the six oval races next year. Carpenter will continue to drive the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Ultra-Premium Vodka Chevrolet on ovals while the road and street course program for the car is still under consideration. The 2017 season will open on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. on March 12.

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The 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series Championship Celebration, honoring newly crowned title-winner Simon Pagenaud, will take over downtown Indianapolis on Tuesday, October 4th.

Simon Pagenaud kisses the Astor Cup after winning the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series Title at Sonoma Raceway -- Image by Joe Skibinski

Simon Pagenaud kisses the Astor Cup after winning the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series Title at Sonoma Raceway — Image by Joe Skibinski

Monument Circle in the city center will buzz with INDYCAR activity throughout the day. Team transporters will line the south side of the circle beginning at 11:30 am, along with the Indy cars of Pagenaud & Alexander Rossi, winner of the historic 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil in May.

Also on display will be the Astor Cup, the trophy presented annually to the Verizon IndyCar Series champion since 2011, and the iconic Borg-Warner Trophy featuring the likeness of every Indianapolis 500 winner.

At 12 noon, the first 250 fans are invited to enjoy a free lunch on the circle, provided by Qdoba Mexican Eats and hosted by Mark Miles, the CEO of Hulman & Company, parent of INDYCAR and Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The transporter display will remain open to the public throughout the afternoon.

100th Running of the Indy 500 Champion Alexander Rossi -- Image by Joe Skibinski

100th Running of the Indy 500 Champion Alexander Rossi — Image by Joe Skibinski

Verizon IndyCar Series drivers will begin walking the red carpet at 5 pm entering the Hilbert Circle Theatre, site of the awards ceremony with a capacity crowd expected. Fans unable to attend the Championship Celebration are invited to gather on the circle to watch their favorite drivers and VIPs arrive.  Pagenaud, the Team Penske driver who won 5 races to wrap up his first title, will be presented the $1 million champion’s prize and the Astor Cup during the awards ceremony beginning at 6:45 pm following a 5:30 pm reception inside Hilbert Circle Theatre.

INDYCAR will host Facebook Live chats with drivers and VIPs throughout the day’s activities on Monument Circle.

A live video stream of the Championship Celebration will be available on IndyCar.com and the INDYCAR Facebook page, beginning at 6:45 pm.

2016 Verizon IndyCar Series Championship Celebration

Where: Hilbert Circle Theatre — 45 Monument Circle, Indianapolis, Indiana  46204

When: Tuesday, October 4th

Transporter Display – Monument Circle — 11:30 am

Qdoba Mexican Eats Luncheon on Monument Circle — 12 noon

Red Carpet Activities — 5 pm

Championship Celebration Reception — 5:30 pm

Championship Celebration — 6:45 pm

(All Times – ET)

Gate 9 is the entryway to an entertaining weekend full of high-octane thrills at the first Red Bull Air Race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this Oct. 1-2. All fans heading to the Speedway are encouraged to use Gate 9 to enter the event.

The Fan Midway, with concessions, merchandise, a “Learn to Fly Zone” and Red Bull athlete demos are located just inside of Gate 9. Seating for the event is in the North Vista, Northeast Vista and Northwest Vista grandstands, just beyond the new Fan Midway and closest to Gate 9 as well.

“Believe it or not, IMS is turning into a fully functional airport for our entire Race Weekend,” IMS President Doug Boles said. “This transition has moved all of our seating and fan activity zones into the North end of the facility, making Gate 9 the primary access point to the track on Saturday and Sunday. The most talented and daring pilots in the world are just days away from taking to the skies above IMS, and the best way to be part of the action is to follow just a few simple planning steps outlined on the IMS website and mobile application.”

Gate 10 will also be open for the event and is a second option for entry that is near both the Midway and spectator seating. Paid parking for each event day will be available in Lots 1A, 1B, North 40 and Lot 8. These lots are just north of 25th Street and best accessed by adding 30th Street to your driving route. Given the location of parking, seating and activity zones, fans should use 30th Street rather than 16th Street for the easiest trip to the Speedway this weekend.

More information on the Red Bull Air Race at IMS, including a daily schedule, maps, gate regulations, facility hours, driving directions and more can be accessed via www.ims.com/planyourvisit and the IMS mobile app. Gates open at 10 a.m. on both days. Tickets are still available for this inaugural event and can be purchased at www.ims.com/tickets.

About Red Bull Air Race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway: 

In 2016, the Racing Capital of the World returns to its aviation roots, hosting the inaugural Red Bull Air Race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The weekend will feature the best pilots in the world hitting speeds of over 230 mph and pulling nearly 10 Gs. Red Bull will also bring the world of action sports to IMS, with top athletes performing demos in disciplines such as slacklining, moto trials, sportbike freestyle, and MTB.

Created in 2003 and officially a world championship in 2005, the Red Bull Air Race has held over 65 races and is watched by millions of fans. The Red Bull Air Race World Championship features the world’s best race pilots in a pure motorsport competition that combines speed, precision and skill. Using the fastest, most agile lightweight racing planes, pilots navigate a low-level slalom track marked by 82-feet-high, air-filled pylons. In 2014, the Challenger Cup was introduced, giving new pilots the chance to develop their low-altitude flying skills. But one thing remains the same; The Red Bull Air Race World Championship is the most thrilling motorsports competition in the sky.

Roger Penske congratulates his driver Simon Pagenaud on winning the both the Sonoma IndyCar Grand Prix and 2016 IndyCar Championship - IndyCar Image by Joe Skibinski

Roger Penske congratulates his driver Simon Pagenaud on winning the both the Sonoma IndyCar Grand Prix and 2016 IndyCar Championship – IndyCar Image by Joe Skibinski

SONOMA, Calif. (Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016) – Simon Pagenaud put the exclamation point on a sensational breakthrough season, winning today’s GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma to clinch his first Verizon IndyCar Series championship in impressive fashion.

Pagenaud, driving the No. 22 Hewlett Packard Enterprise Chevrolet for Team Penske, won the 85-lap race at Sonoma Raceway by 3.2523 seconds over Graham Rahal. The dominating performance saw Pagenaud lead all but nine laps and clinch the series crown by 127 points over teammate Will Power.

“I tried to take my future in my destiny by being aggressive and going as fast as I could,” Pagenaud said. “Clearly we had a phenomenal car, I think a very dominant car today, so we could do that.

“I just enjoyed driving today. It was an incredible day and I think it just shows the strength of the 22 team for the whole season.”

Pagenaud started the race from the pole position and surrendered the lead only during pit stop cycles in winning for the fifth time this season and ninth of his Indy car career. Power, in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, was running second to Pagenaud until a clutch malfunction stopped his car on track on Lap 36. Power fell eight laps off the pace while repairs were made and finished the race in 20th place, but retained second in the championship for the fourth time in his 12-year Indy car career.

“It was obviously disappointing to have that gearbox problem,” Power said. “I think Simon was going to be tough to beat as far as the championship goes. Maybe we could have beaten him for the (race) win, but I doubt it if everything just played out as it was. But honestly it was still a very strong year,” added the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series champion, whose wife, Liz, is expecting their first child in the off-season. “Four race wins. I won a 500-mile race (at Pocono). Not the right one (the Indianapolis 500), but still a 500-miler.”

The championship was the 14th in Indy cars for Team Penske, celebrating its 50th anniversary in racing this year, and the race win was the team’s 187th in Indy car competition – more than any other team. Pagenaud, who set a track record in qualifying on the 2.385-mile permanent road course Saturday, etched his name into the Sonoma books again today with his average race speed of 101.181 mph.

Pagenaud now enjoys the spoils of the championship, including a $1 million prize and official presentation of the Astor Cup that will take place Oct. 4 at the INDYCAR Championship Celebration in Indianapolis. It gives the 32-year-old Frenchman two weeks to let the magnitude of his accomplishment sink in.

“It’s unbelievable,” he admitted. “I think I will realize it more tomorrow. There is so much emotion right now, to be honest, I can’t find the words. My whole career has been about this, about today and getting to this point and to this level.”

Team Penske completed a 1-2-3 sweep of the championship when Helio Castroneves finished seventh in the race to edge Ed Carpenter Racing‘s Josef Newgarden by two points in the standings. It marked the first time the same team took the top three championship positions since Penske also accomplished the feat in 1994 with Al Unser Jr., Emerson Fittipaldi and Paul Tracy.

With his second-place race finish in the No. 15 Steak ‘n Shake Honda, Rahal advanced to fifth in the championship – the highest-placing Honda driver.

“Good day, good way to end it,” said the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver. “I wanted to get Pagenaud, but when I’d get behind him, I’d get massively loose. I thought at one point it was best I salvage a second place rather than do something stupid.”

As he did in winning the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil in May, Alexander Rossi ran out of fuel and coasted to the finish line today. He was passed by Andretti Autosport teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay for fourth place, but still secured Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors for the season just as he did for the Indy 500.

Chevrolet, which won 14 of the 16 races this season, also clinched its fifth consecutive manufacturers’ championship by 104 points over Honda. Chevy has taken the honor every year since manufacturer competition resumed in the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2012.

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The Verizon IndyCar Series has a lot to celebrate this season. Following the sold-out historic 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil in May, there is no better place to commemorate the conclusion of the 2016 campaign than The Racing Capital of the World.

Drivers, team owners and fans will gather October 4tj at Hilbert Circle Theatre in downtown Indianapolis for the annual INDYCAR Championship Celebration. The awards event to honor the Verizon IndyCar Series champion driver and team has been held in San Francisco and Los Angeles the past three years. It last took place in Indianapolis in 2012.

Hosting the event in Indianapolis is especially appropriate this year, according to Team Penske driver Will Power, the 2014 series champion who, along with teammate Simon Pagenaud, is in hot contention for the title again.

“It’s always fitting, but more so this year, for the Verizon IndyCar Series Championship Celebration to be in Indianapolis,” said Power. “It’s been a celebration there all year with the 100th Running of the Indy 500. I’m looking forward to it. It’s a great time of the year to be there.”

Indy cars and their transporter trucks will be parked on the south side of Monument Circle on the day of the event. Drivers, motorsports celebrities and awards presenters will make red carpet entries before the festivities begin at 5:30 p.m. ET on October 4th. Fans are invited, too.

Through INDYCAR Nation, the official fan community of the Verizon IndyCar Series, tickets are now being provided to all INDYCAR Nation members at no cost. To sign up for INDYCAR Nation and reserve your free tickets, head to http://indycarnation.indycar.com to register.