Panther kicks off season during Friday practice in St. Petersburg

National Guard Panther team hampered by electrical gremlin in second practice; JR Hildebrand finishes 23rd on the streets of St. Pete. However, the Panther DRR driver Oriol Servia posted the fourth-quickest time.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (March 22, 2013) – The IndyCar Series season was officially kicked-off on Friday afternoon on the downtown streets of St. Petersburg, where 25 car-and-driver combinations took to the 14-turn, 1.8-mile temporary street circuit. National Guard Panther Racing driver JR Hildebrand was slowed by an electrical gremlin for a good portion of the second practice, but still managed to put down a total of 29laps during the day’s two practice sessions.

J.R. Hildebrand, Panther Racing
J.R. Hildebrand, Panther Racing

Photo by: Brad Fox

The team posted a top lap speed of 103.011 mph, 1:02.9057 seconds, which was the 23rd-quickest time of the day.

Panther DRR driver Oriol Servia posted the fourth-quickest time on the day, which bodes well for the National Guard team in its collaboration with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing and its veteran driver. With the collaboration between the two teams realigned this year, the electrical issues that hampered the No. 4 team today won’t be as big of a setback, especially given Servia’s speed.

Hildebrand is slated to make his third career start in St. Petersburg this Sunday, and last year the 25-year-old American led the race and was about to secure a Top Five finish before a fuel pressure issue sent him back to a 19th-place finishing position. Hildebrand finished 11th in St. Pete in his first start here in 2011.

JR Hildebrand, No. 4 National Guard Chevrolet:
"We were unfortunately down for a lot of practice two today with an electrical issue, but thankfully Oriol was rather quick, so we’ll look to learn from them to be ready for tomorrow.”

Panther Racing

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About this article
Series INDYCAR
Article type Practice report
Tags chevrolet, hildebrand, indycar, izod, panther racing, servia, st. pete, st. petersburg