AJ Foyt Racing will have four cars vying for a starting position in the 105th Indianapolis 500 next month. The team announced today that JR Hildebrand will be behind the wheel of the No. ?? Chevrolet. The veteran driver is aiming to qualify for his 11th Indy 500 race. While Hildebrand is known for the finish of his maiden voyage in 2011, he has a solid resume on the 2.5-mile oval.
Hildebrand’s first three races came with Panther Racing, with a mixed bag of results. His next four starts in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing came with Ed Carpenter’s team, where he had three top-ten finishes. In his last three 500 starts, he drove a second car for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing with a best finish of 11th in 2018. He joins Sebastien Bourdais, Dalton Kellett, and Charlie Kimball for the Month of May. The full press release from today is below.
[AJ Foyt Racing Press Release]
Celebrating the 60th anniversary of A.J. Foyt’s first triumph in the Indianapolis 500, ABC Supply Co. Inc. will sponsor a fourth AJ Foyt Racing entry in this year’s 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge. J.R. Hildebrand will pilot the No. 1 ABC Supply Chevrolet.
“ABC Supply is excited for the opportunity to support AJ Foyt Racing by sponsoring the No. 1 car for the Indy 500,” said Mike Jost, COO of ABC Supply. “A.J. is a living legend and part of the ABC family, and our 15,000 associates are honored to help celebrate the 60th anniversary of his first of four Indy 500 wins as a driver.”
As a tribute to Foyt’s feat, the car will sport a throwback livery of the No. 1 Bowes Seal Fast Offenhauser roadster that Foyt drove in 1961. The car’s candy apple red nose will be trimmed with black stripes over a primarily white body. Further echoing the vintage livery, a large red No. 1 will emblazon the rear of the engine cover in addition to the normal positions on the nose and rear wing. The No. 1 belongs to PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing as the reigning champion but as a courtesy, Ganassi released the number to Foyt’s team for the Indy 500.
“This livery is more than just a throwback for us,” revealed Team President Larry Foyt. “It is special to our team and family, and its imagery is something I have grown up seeing my whole life. It is wonderful that our longtime friends and partner ABC Supply will be the primary sponsor on this tribute to one of my Dad’s great accomplishments.
“Being able to sign a quality driver like J.R. will add another source of valuable feedback to our team which is especially important given the talent-packed Indy 500 entry list this year.”
Despite running only three full seasons in the NTT INDYCAR Series, Hildebrand has qualified for the past 10 Indy 500s, an impressive resume that led Foyt to hire him.
“This is definitely a drive to be excited about, and for multiple reasons,” said the 33-year-old Californian. “Getting the chance to drive for A.J. and Larry is something I’m looking forward to no matter what, but with ABC honoring the 60th anniversary of A.J.’s first 500 win that makes it extra special. I’ll be back in a Chevy which I’ve spent almost my entire IndyCar career driving, gain the benefit of three teammates, and get the chance to reunite, in a way, with an engineer I’ve had success with before in Justin Taylor, who’s race-engineering Seb this year. We all know that the 500 is only getting more competitive so we’ll all have to bring our best to the table, but that, to me, is what makes this race so worthwhile in the first place. I can’t wait to get rolling.”
Hildebrand scored his career best finish of second as a rookie in 2011, the centennial running of the Indy 500. It was a bittersweet finish for the then 23-year-old who had taken the lead with two laps to go. Passing a lapped car, he pushed high and tapped the outside wall which slowed him enough to allow Dan Wheldon to win. In 10 starts, Hildebrand has qualified in the top 10 four times and posted four top-10 finishes.
Carrying the theme further, Hildebrand will wear a solid white uniform, the same color Foyt wore, but unlike Foyt’s uniform, Hildebrand’s firesuit will feature many more marketing partners which made the fourth entry viable.
The ABC Supply crew will also wear uniforms modeled after the 1961 crew headed by legendary chief mechanic George Bignotti who won his first of a record seven Indy 500s with Foyt. With collars trimmed in black and featuring a black pocket, the crew shirts and firesuits will echo the Bignotti crew’s teamwear. Conceding to practicality, the crew will wear black pants instead of white.
There is a palpable excitement within the Foyt team about this effort and the 86-year-old patriarch feels it too.
“At my age, I don’t get too excited anymore but I’m thrilled to see this car painted like my ’61 car,” said Foyt. “That win was so special because it was my dream just to be good enough to make the race. To win it three years later well I was thrilled to death about it. They were all sweet victories but to win that first one after where I came from, it was unbelievable.”
“Having ABC Supply sponsor this car is fantastic,” Foyt continued. “They were awful good to us as our main sponsor for 15 years and they came back for the 500 last year when things were pretty tough. Well, that just shows what type of company they are. We’ve been great friends and we’ll remain that way.”
Practice for the 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge begins Tuesday, May 18 with qualifying set for May 22-23. The Indy 500 will be broadcast live on NBC starting at 11 a.m. ET