National Guard Panther Team Looks to Make Gains on Saturday Before Qualifications
LEEDS, Alabama (April 5, 2013) –Practice for this weekend’s Indy Grand Prix of Alabama kicked-off at Barber Motorsports Park on Friday afternoon, with National Guard Panther Racing driver JR Hildebrand posting the 23rd-quickest lap time during the day’s two practice sessions. Last year at Barber Hildebrand collected his career-best non-oval qualification effort after advancing to the Firestone Fast Six, where he secured the fifth-place starting position. At the time it was Panther’s best start on a non-oval track since 2005.
Team Chevy driver Helio Castroneves set the quickest lap time of the day in his No. 3 Team Penske machine with Alex Tagliani and rookie Tristan Vautier rounding out the top three on the time sheet.
SPC John Washington Swails Named Panther’s Alabama Hometown Hero:
Panther Racing has named John Washington Swails as its honorary Hometown Hero for the Indy Grand Prix of Alabama weekend. Panther began its Hometown Hero program in 2008 to help highlight an extraordinary Soldier from each respective state’s National Guard. Each hero participates in the IndyCar Series driver autograph session during the race weekend and sits next to Hildebrand while signing a specialty-made hero card. The hero also takes an IndyCar Experience two-seater ride, is honored during an awards presentation in the team’s hospitality unit prior to the race and is also recognized on the pre-race stage in front of the crowd prior to the start of the race.
JR Hildebrand, No. 4 National Guard Chevrolet:
"The fact we didn’t throw a new set of tires on the National Guard Chevy at the end of the session today obviously has a significant affect on where we were at (on the speed chart). Another piece of that is that the track gets better as it cools off here and we were one of the first cars to go out when we did our fastest lap. That all aside, the track is significantly different from when we tested here, and we’re still trying to get everything dialed in. Between myself and Oriol (Servia) we both made some changes that we’ll all end up going to when we roll out in the morning.”
JR Hildebrand Racing