SPEEDWAY, Ind. – Zach Veach will fill in for injured Ed Carpenter Racing driver J.R. Hildebrand this weekend when the Verizon IndyCar Series visits Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama.
A bone in Hildebrand’s left hand was broken on April 9 in a final-lap incident during the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. The break in the 29-year-old’s hand required surgery, performed on Tuesday, April 11 at the Indiana Hand to Shoulder Center in Indianapolis.
“This obviously is not how I had hoped this would play out, but I’ve done everything there was to do since surgery last Tuesday with good results. It seems the risk is still too high given the initial extent of the injury,” stated Hildebrand. “The doctors I’ve worked with have been awesome to get my fractures sorted out and I trust their view of the situation.”
“I’m disappointed for the team to be out this weekend, but am looking forward to doing everything I can at Barber to help continue the progress we’ve made so far this year. I am continuing to rehab with maximum focus to be back in the saddle for Phoenix,” Hildebrand continued.
The 22-year-old Veach will be making his Verizon IndyCar Series debut this weekend. As fate would have it, the first Indy car Veach drove was the No. 21 in an Indy Lights Series driver test day at Sonoma Raceway in September of last year. He has six Indy Lights wins, including three last season on his way to a third place finish in the championship. The Stockdale, Ohio, native has already been confirmed to drive in this year’s Indianapolis 500 for fellow Chevrolet-powered team AJ Foyt Racing.
“First and foremost, my thoughts are with JR and his recovery, that’s the most important part of this,” Veach said. “My heart goes out to him as I suffered a broken hand a couple years ago and I wouldn’t wish that upon anyone. This isn’t how any driver wants to get his first race but with that said, I’m extremely thankful for the opportunity to sub for JR.”
“Ed (Carpenter) gave me my first chance to test an Indy car a few months ago. It’s going to be very special for me to be back in that same car representing Fuzzy’s Vodka at Barber,” continued Veach. “It’s going to be a lot to take in in a short amount of time, but I’m really excited to do the best I can for the team, as well as J.R.”
“We will obviously miss J.R. being in the car this weekend, but we need to focus on what is best for his recovery and for ECR while he is recovering,” Carpenter said. “Zach is a driver that we have been interested in; during the test at Sonoma last year, he did nothing but impress. We know he will do a great job at Barber in what is a tough situation for everyone.”