JR Hildebrand will return to the Verizon IndyCar Series next month after securing a deal to race a third CFH Racing entry at the May 9 Angies List Grand Prix of Indianapolis and the Indy 500 alongside teammates Josef Newgarden and Luca Filippi on the road course and Ed Carpenter on the famed 2.5-mile oval.

Hildebrand has been without a full-time drive since splitting with Panther Racing halfway through the 2013 season, he finished tenth at the wheel of a second entry for the former Ed Carpenter Racing – before its current merger with Sarah Fisher-Hartman Racing – at the Indy 500 last year (pictured above).

He famously came within seconds of winning the 2011 Indianapolis 500 on debut, but crashed his Panther Racing entry out at the final corner while in the lead, handing victory to the late Dan Wheldon.

“It was really great working with Ed last year at the 500 and I did a little bit of testing in the off-season with Josef [Newgarden], we got along really well,” Hildebrand said. “I expect the relationship that the three of us have to be potent and for us to have great communication.

“That’s such a huge piece, particularly at the 500, where there is so much practice, qualifying is so intense and we’ll have the new aero kits.

“You need every last ounce of speed you can get out of the cars for both qualifying and race day and we can all work together to reach that goal.”

Hildebrand has four previous Indy 500 starts under his belt, but will race for the first time on the Indianapolis road course, which had its debut on the IndyCar calendar last year.

“To have the Grand Prix added onto the 500 programme is great,” Hildebrand continued. “Having a race under our belts going into the 500 is a huge difference from a one-off scenario. It can be tough sometimes when you have guys who haven’t done pit stops as a group during a race and you don’t have that chemistry yet, it will be great for my team of guys to have a warm-up heading into the oval race and great for me to get back in a car on a road course.”

The 27-year-old’s last road course start came when he finished 16th in a one off race with Bryan Herta Autosport at the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma in 2013.

Image via IndyCar Series

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Michael Terminello

Journalist at MotorsportM8
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