Hildebrand qualifies 17th for sunday’s GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma

Sonoma, California - Hometown favorite and Panther Racing driver JR Hildebrand qualified 17th for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma posting a fast lap of 1:19.0931 seconds during qualifications Saturday. The Panther team made changes to the No.4 National Guard Chevy for Saturday’s qualifying session after struggling for grip throughout most of Friday’s practice session.

J.R. Hildebrand, National Guard Panther Racing Chevrolet
J.R. Hildebrand, National Guard Panther Racing Chevrolet

Photo by: Jeff Davidson

Hildebrand and the Panther team spent much of Friday practice searching for more rear-grip with the Firestone tires, and the young driver suspects tire-wear will play a large roll in tomorrow’s race. Tomorrow will mark Hildebrand’s third career start at this hometown track, after making his IndyCar debut here with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing in 2010. That season, Hildebrand set the fastest lap of the race driving the No. 24 but was taken out by Marco Andretti while running in the Top Five.

Panther has made a total of nine previous starts at Infineon, with a total of one podium, two Top Five and five Top Ten finishes. The team’s best starting position is fourth (Tomas Enge, 2005) and it has a highest finish of third (Vitor Meira, 2006). Enge led a total of 13 laps in his only start on the track for Panther, the only time the team has paced the field at Infineon.

The Panther team is paying tribute to Co-owner and San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh this weekend and Hildebrand, a bay-area native, is looking to bring that car to the front of the pack.

JR Hildebrand, No. 4 National Guard Chevrolet: “The guys did a great job to make some changes from practice, we were definitely struggling with a few things whenpractice ended. I think we did a good job making some incremental improvements and adjusting for the red tires. I think I probably over drove my lap a little bit and that probably cost us a couple of tenths.

Obviously for me being here at my home track is definitely frustrating, but we’ve made some improvements and we have a clear direction what we need to continue to improve to make the car good in the race. We’ve seen throughout practice that tire ware is a big factor and we’ll be heading into the race with an extra set of sticker reds than a lot of the cars in front of us, so that’s a little bit of silver lining. I think that was the first time in a little while that I think I actually blew a lap.

We had a big shift in the wind direction here and I just didn’t account for that tail wind as much as I should have. You know sometimes that’s just how these things go. Hopefully we can put on a good show for the hometown crowdtomorrow.”

JR Hildebrand, No. 4 National Guard Chevrolet: “The guys did a great job to make some changes from practice, we were definitely struggling with a few things whenpractice ended. I think we did a good job making some incremental improvements and adjusting for the red tires. I think I probably over drove my lap a little bit and that probably cost us a couple of tenths.

Obviously for me being here at my home track is definitely frustrating, but we’ve made some improvements and we have a clear direction what we need to continue to improve to make the car good in the race.

We’ve seen throughout practice that tire ware is a big factor and we’ll be heading into the race with an extra set of sticker reds than a lot of the cars in front of us, so that’s a little bit of silver lining.

I think that was the first time in a little while that I think I actually blew a lap. We had a big shift in the wind direction here and I just didn’t account for that tail wind as much as I should have. You know sometimes that’s just how these things go. Hopefully we can put on a good show for the hometown crowdtomorrow.”

Source: Panther Racing

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series INDYCAR
Article type Qualifying reports
Tags chevrolet, chevy, hildebrand, indycar, national guard, panther