Hildebrand, Panther Finish 18th, 24th in Doubleheader at Texas
National Guard Panther Racing Rookie Battles Through Tight Field at Texas Motor Speedway
The new doubleheader format at Texas Motor Speedway saw National Guard Panther Racing driver JR Hildebrand finish in 24th and 18th positions respectively in each of the Firestone Twin 275s. The team battled through difficult first stints in each of the races, but was able to get the No. 4 National Guard car back up to pace by the conclusion of each of the 114-lapshootouts.
Panther is now ninth in the IZOD IndyCar Series point standings and Hildebrand remains the leader in the series’ Rookie of the Year standings, leading Newman/Haas driver James Hinchcliffe by a total of 33 points. Hildebrand has collected two Top Ten and one Top Five finish in hisseven starts this season and he has led a total of seven laps.
Hildebrand qualified 11th, a career-best, for the first of the Firestone Twin 275s but an extreme amount of understeer caused JR to slip back down the grid, where he eventually finished 24th. Starting positions for the second race were determined by a random draw at halftime and Hildebrand drew the 21st starting position. Much like the first race, a severe amount of push prevented Panther’s rookie driver from making up much ground during the first stint of the race. The second race went without a caution period which allowed leader, and eventual winner, Will Power to lap Hildebrand even after the No. 4 car had gotten up to speed with a majority of the field.
The IZOD IndyCar Series will travel to the Milwaukee Mile next Sunday when the Milwaukee 225 will be broadcast live on ABC starting at 3:30 pm (ET) with additional coverage provided by the IMS RadioNetwork, XM channel 94 and Sirius channel 212.
JR Hildebrand, No. 4 National Guard Dallara Honda: "It’s definitely cool to be out here and Texas is a place that historically holds some good racing. It’s unfortunate for us that we weren’t in the thick of that race for the whole time. We definitely were racing out there and in both races, once we got to the end of the race, felt pretty quick and like we could mix it up out there. Our first stint ineach of the races was pretty lousy and we guessed a little wrong in the first stint of both races, which played a big part in determining where we ended up at the end. This is something to learn from and we’ve got a couple more tracks on the schedule that aren’t quite like Texas but are big one-and-a-half-mile ovals and I know we can take some lessons from running here and apply them.
“The two-race format is cool. It gives you the chance re-group, change more than just front wing and tire pressures and give it a shot again. I’d be all about doing it again. People complain a lot these days about race length, so I think doing something like this makes itthat much more exciting.”
-source: panther racing