Hildebrand Scores Best Career Road Course Start; Qualifies 13th at Mid-Ohio
National Guard Panther Racing Driver Returns to Course Where He Made His IndyCar Series Debut in 2010
National Guard Panther Racing driver JR Hildebrand secured his best non-oval starting position of his young career Saturday at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, where the 23-year-old Californian will start in 13th for tomorrow’s Honda Indy 200. Hildebrand narrowly missed advancing to the second round of Firestone Fast Six qualifications; finishing seventh in his group, just a few hundredths behind Alex Tagliani, who was the sixth, and final, driver to advance out of the initial round of qualifying.
Hildebrand posted a total of eight laps in his group, with a top time of 1:09.416 seconds, which was just behind Tagliani’s best time of 1:09.340 seconds.
Mid-Ohio is the same track where Hildebrand made his IZOD IndyCar Series debut in 2010 while subbing for a then-injured Mike Conway at Dreyer& Reinbold Racing. He finished 16th last season while driving the No. 24 entry. Hildebrand’s best qualification effort of the season is a fourth-place start at Iowa Speedway and his previous best qualifications effort on a non-oval track was a 15th-place start earlier this season at Barber Motorsports Park.
Hildebrand’s habit of moving up the grid on road and street courses could be more fruitful this weekend with a better starting position. JR hasimproved his finishing position relative to where he qualified by a total of 64 positions in his six road/street course starts; St. Pete (+13), Barber (+2), Long Beach (+10), Brazil (+12), Toronto (+14) and now Edmonton (+13). Hildebrand has also completed 100 percent of the possible 495 laps held this season on road and street courses.