Hildebrand Leads From Flag To Flag in Race One at Infineon Raceway Sonoma, Calif. (July 15, 2005) -- J.R. Hildebrand used his knowledge of the challenging Infineon Raceway road course to excellent effect this afternoon, taking the lead on the ...
Hildebrand Leads From Flag To Flag in Race One at Infineon Raceway
Sonoma, Calif. (July 15, 2005) -- J.R. Hildebrand used his knowledge of the challenging Infineon Raceway road course to excellent effect this afternoon, taking the lead on the opening lap of Round 7 of the Pacific F2000 Championship Presented by Mickey Thompson Tires/Cooper Tire and leading throughout the 30-minute, 16-lap race to claim a long-overdue first professional victory.
"It's such a relief to just get it out of the way," said the 17-year-old from Sausalito, Calif., who had finished on the podium in every one of his previous eight races with the crack PR1 Motorsports team this season without ever reaching the top step. "I was starting to get a bit of a chip on my shoulder -- to be so close so many times and not get it done -- so this feels great."
Hildebrand qualified on the pole and displayed his prowess on cold tires by quickly making a break at the start. His early advantage was negated almost immediately by a full-course caution, after a couple of cars got together farther down the field, but the youngster once again made a break at the restart and was content to keep a consistent pace until the finish.
"I knew we had the speed," he related. "We were fastest in all the [practice] sessions yesterday and started from the pole, so really, I just drove my own race and brought it home."
Hildebrand's#66 Jim Russell Racing School/Spy Optic Mygale SJ04 took the checkered flag some 1.976 seconds clear of another extremely impressive teenager, Robert Podlesni, who chased hard with his #84 Dave Freitas Racing Van Diemen RF03 to score his best finish in only his eighth ever auto race.
"I just put everything together this time," said the 17-year-old former kart racer from Thousand Oaks, Calif. "It's been a lot of work in the making. The whole problem has been a lack of seat time, so we've done some testing and I've been looking at the data like crazy; and this week we've just put all the pieces of the puzzle together."
Championship leader Mike Forest, from Edmonton, Canada, chased hard in third place with the #8 Dynacor/Miracle Sealants/Earth Water Mygale SJ04.
Forest, 23, couldn't quite match the two teenagers on this occasion but was relatively content with his third-place finish. Forest also nabbed a couple of bonus championship points for recording the fastest lap of the race at 1m 35.912s, an average speed of 94.962 mph.
"I got alongside Robert a couple of times but I couldn't quite make the pass stick," he declared. "It's good to come away with fastest lap. I should have done it in qualifying because it's tough to pass here. We'll make a couple of changes to the car overnight and see what we can do tomorrow."
(Qualifying for the weekend's second race will take place at 4:10 p.m. on Saturday, with the 30-minute race due to follow at 4:55 p.m. on Sunday.)
Dane Cameron, 16, from Sonoma, Calif., made an impressive Pacific F2000 debut in a third PR1 Motorsports Mygale, backed by the Drive4USA program, to finish fourth, well clear of veteran John Lombardo Jr., from Brea, Calif., in the #30 NAPA Auto Parts/Valvoline/Denso Van Diemen RF02 from the P-1 Racing stable.
Tim Harris, from Irvine, Calif., and Clark Cambern, from Lansing, Mich., took sixth and seventh, respectively, in their first outings in brand-new Mygale SJ05 chassis.
Carl Scott (Tiger Karts Van Diemen RF96-Ivey) was the best-placed of the Ford pinto-powered contingent in 12th place.
Results from Round 7:
1. J.R. Hildebrand (Mygale SJ04); 2. Robert Podlesni (Van Diemen RF03); 3. Mike Forest (Mygale SJ04); 4. Dane Cameron (Mygale SJ04); 5. John Lombardo Jr. (Van Diemen RF02); 6. Tim Harris (Mygale SJ05); 7. Clark Cambern (Mygale SJ05); 8. Todd MacNaughton (Van Diemen RF02); 9. Chris Hundley (Van Diemen RF05); 10. Bob Negron (Van Diemen RF99); 11. Joel Miller (Van Diemen RF02); 12. Carl Scott (Van Diemen RF96-Ivey/Pinto); 13. Les Phillips (Mygale SJ05); 14. Chris Spreitzer (Van Diemen RF94-Loyning/Pinto); 15. Mark Peller (Van Diemen RF01); 16. Doug da Costa (Van Diemen RF02); 17. Peter Hastrup (Van Diemen RF02); 18. Efrain Olivares Jr. (Van Diemen RF97-Ivey/Pinto); 19. John Gluckin (Van Diemen RF01); 20. Bill Modisette (Van Diemen RF05); 21. Scott Foutch (Van Diemen RF03), - 1 lap; 22. Fiorenzo Tirinnanzi (Van Diemen RF03), -3 laps; 23. Scott Rarick (Van Diemen RF03), - 7 laps; 24. Dwight Rider (Van Diemen RF02), - 9 laps; 25. Al Salvo (Mygale SJ04), -10 laps; 26. Tom Modisette (Van Diemen RF96-Ivey/Pinto), -16 laps; 27. Steven M. Kries (Van Diemen RF01), -16 laps.