J.R. Hildebrand Clinches Firestone Indy Lights Title at Chicagoland Speedway Seven Candidates Nominated For 20th Anniversary Team USA Scholarship Joliet, Ill. (August 29, 2009) -- 2005 Team USA Scholarship winner J.R. Hildebrand this evening...
J.R. Hildebrand Clinches Firestone Indy Lights Title at Chicagoland Speedway
Seven Candidates Nominated For 20th Anniversary Team USA Scholarship
Joliet, Ill. (August 29, 2009) -- 2005 Team USA Scholarship winner J.R. Hildebrand this evening continued his inexorable march toward the pinnacle of auto racing by clinching the 2009 Firestone Indy Lights Championship crown at Chicagoland Speedway. A conservative fifth-place finish was enough to ensure the gifted 21-year-old from Sausalito, Calif., cannot by beaten with just one race remaining in the season.
In a happy coincidence, Daniel Herrington's accomplished victory marked the maiden success for the Bryan Herta Autosport team in its first season of competition. Herta, who was awarded a Team USA Scholarship in 1991, went on to win the 1993 Firestone Indy Lights Championship en route to a successful career in the sport.
Also today, 20 years on from the program's inception, founder Jeremy Shaw confirmed that seven talented young American drivers have been nominated as candidates for 2009 Team USA Scholarships.
The 2009 nominees are:
* Connor De Phillippi, 16, from San Clemente, Calif. -- current leader of the BFGoodrich Skip Barber National Series with seven wins from 10 races
* Liam Kenney, 17, from Sterling, Va.. -- finished second in the 2008 VW Vetta TDI Cup, with two wins; currently competing in the German-based ADAC Formula Master series
* Timmy Megenbier, 18, from Melrose Park, Ill. -- current leader of the VW Jetta TDI Cup Series with three wins from six races
* Chris Miller, 20, from Edina, Minn. -- recently clinched the F2000 Championship Series title with four wins and seven poles from 12 races
* Ben Searcy, 18, from Tuscaloosa, Ala. -- finished fourth overall and claimed Rookie of the Year honors in the 2009 F2000 Championship Series with three wins and a pole
* Brett Smrz, 18, from Coeur d'Alene, Idaho -- a race winner in the BFGoodrich Skip Barber National Series and front-runner in the Playboy Mazda MX-5 Series
* Court Vernon, 17, from Key Biscayne, Fla. -- currently second in the BFGoodrich Skip Barber National Series (and top rookie) with one win and a series-high four poles
The intention is to select two drivers to contest a pair of prestigious events to be held in England this fall, the Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch (won last year by Team USA Scholarship driver Josef Newgarden) and the Walter Hayes Trophy at Silverstone (won last year by teammate Conor Daly).
The Team USA Scholarship was founded in 1990 and is supported by Doug Mockett & Company, Terminal Velocity Processing, Road Racing Drivers Club, Firestone Indy Lights Championship, Highcroft Racing, American Honda, Silicon Salvage, McMurry Inc., Dyson Racing, Metalore, The Gorsline Company, Integrated Performance Technology, Andersen Racing Team, PitFit Training, Sparco USA, eFormulaCarNews.com, Speedstar Management, Manifest Group and an array of past Scholarship winners including Jimmy Vasser, Bryan Herta, A.J. Allmendinger, Buddy Rice, Andy Lally, Paul Edwards and Memo Gidley.
For more information, please visit www.TeamUSAScholarship.org.
-credit: jeremy shaw