A late sprint to the finish following a long delay for track repairs in Sunday’s Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix led to damage on JR Hildebrand’s National Guard Panther Racing entry that stuck the team with a 12th-place finish. With less than 10 laps remaining, contact between Hildebrand, Ryan Briscoe and Marco Andretti caused the car’s gear sensor to fail, which had a significant impact on the car’s lap times for the remainder of the race.
Following the race, IndyCar penalized the team for working on the No. 4 car during the red flag, and placed Panther in 14th position, a lap down to the field.
Hildebrand, who started in the 19th position, was up to 15th before the 90-lap race was red-flagged because parts of the track were coming up and causing damage to several cars. Panther sustained a broken front wing from the concrete that was coming out of the track, which had slowed the National Guard team several laps prior to the stoppage. IndyCar officials shortened the race to 60 laps after a long delay to repair the track, and after a restart on Lap 47, Hildebrand was able to pick up three spots before contact between he and Andretti caused the damage to thegear sensor. JR was able to remain in the race, but the damage rendered himunable to advance further in the closing laps of the event.
QUOTABLE: JR Hildebrand, No. 4 National Guard Chevrolet: "It was a bummer because we had an opportunity there to work our way solidly into the Top Ten. Because of the gear sensor issue and just some damage on the car I couldn’t really get by anybody because I was losing (time) on the straights on the upshifts, or losing time in the middle of the corner because of the downshifts. It’s frustrating because two weekends in a row – coming from Indy and now here – we’ve been at a point that we’re running well and had a shot at a good finish and have it not go our way. The National Guard Chevy guys have been working hard and we certainly found some things in the race that we’re going to be able to take to tracks like this going forward. I think with everything that happened and given the amount of damage we took throughout the event, we’re satisfied to at least have the car in once piece finishing the race, but obviously not where we wanted to finish.”