JR Hildebrand says he is excited to be back racing in the Verizon IndyCar Series full-time for 2017.
Ed Carpenter Racing confirmed last week that 28 year old Hildebrand had been chosen to replace Josef Newgarden in the No.21 Chevrolet following Newgarden’s move to Team Penske.
Speaking during a Verizon IndyCar Series teleconference on Tuesday, Hildebrand commented by saying:
It’s great, man. It’s obviously exciting to be back full-time first and foremost. But to be back here with this team and to get it done this early in the off-season so that we can kind of get the program ready for next year is all just great. I mean, obviously working with ECR over the last three seasons now, it doesn’t feel like a new home necessarily, it feels like somewhere that I’ve been for quite a while now. I think with that, we’ll be able to just jump in and get with the program.
When asked if he had learnt anything from filling for Josef Newgarden at a test session at Road America when Newgarden was sidelined, Hildebrand commented by saying:
I wouldn’t say necessarily it told me anything new about being here. It was more just, I mean — I’ll back up by saying this is where I’ve wanted to be since my first go-around with them. It’s definitely been my primary focus, to create a home for myself here, do the things sort of necessary to be in that position. But being able to get a little bit more seat time this year during the season in that role, you know, filling in for Josef, knowing that mattered for him, mattered for the team, that it wasn’t just some sort of off-season program, it was very specific around goals they were trying to achieve in the middle of the year, our ability to work together, the ease of being able to kind of jump into that and play that role, be around during the race weekends, being a little bit more involved throughout that process I think just fired me up about the opportunity to be doing that myself on a more full-time basis.
Hildebrand went on to say:
I think that really gave me a lot of energy to sort of sit there and go, Yes, I want to be back here doing this, not just because I feel like I’ve got unfinished business, but because I really want to be here. I really enjoy it. I sort of am ready to take advantage of that type of opportunity. That was a great experience to have over the course of the season, getting a little more seat time than expected. It’s great to be able to just build from that as we get prepared for next year.