Panther Racing press release
Hildebrand Finishes in 20th Spot on First Baltimore Grand Prix Practice Day
Inaugural Maryland Street Race Slated to Host IZOD IndyCar Series in Sunday 75-lap Shootout
BALTIMORE, MD. (September 2, 2011) – National Guard Panther Racing driver JR Hildebrand joined the rest of the IZOD IndyCar Series on the Streets of Baltimore Friday for their first glimpse of the bumpy 12-turn, two-mile street course. Hildebrand finished in the 20th position on the final speed chart for the day, as all of the 28 drivers entered in Sunday’s race attempted to get a feel for IndyCar’s newest course.
Hildebrand turned a total of 21 laps during the session, posting a top lap speed of 87.173 mph, 1:24.2464 seconds. A gearbox issue during the middle of the session left the No. 4 National Guard car parked for a portion of the session, and once the problem was sored Hildebrand was limited to only a few flying laps to conclude the session. There is another practice session tomorrow morning prior to qualifications, which will be held at 12:10 pm in the afternoon, as driverswill be vying to make the Firestone Fast Six.
Practice was delayed until this afternoon as track workers were finalizing some last-minute changes to the course. During the down time, Hildebrand joined WWE wrestling superstar Kofi Kingston on the IndyCar FanZone stage, where he was introduced as the newest National Spokesperson for the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program, an at-risk program that helps high school dropouts earn their GED,return to high school or pursue other career opportunities. For more information about the program, please visit: www.ngyf.org
Hildebrand is currently 13th in the IZOD IndyCar Series point standings, but is just four points behind 11th-place driver Takuma Sato. The Rookie of the Year battle with Newman/Haas driver James Hinchcliffe has tighten immensely in the last month, as Hildebrand now leads Hinchcliffe by just three points in the chase. There are a total of four races remaining on the schedule, an equal split of road/street courses and oval tracks. Both Hildebrand and Hinchcliffe are graduates of Firestone Indy Lights, a series which Hildebrand captured a championship in 2009.
The Baltimore Grand Prix will be broadcast live on VERSUS on Sunday, September 4th with additional coverage provided by the IMS Radio Network, XM channel 94 and Sirius channel 212.
JR Hildebrand, No. 4 National Guard Dallara Honda: “We had a bit of a gearbox issue that put us down during the middle of the sessions, and we only had a couple laps once we got back out. We feel fine where we are and just didn’t get the laps in to keep up with the track and the guys who were running the entire time. I like the circuit; it’s definitely technical and has a couple neat sections that are unique to street courses. It’s an interesting challenge and really makes you work for the lap time. Beyond that it’s exciting to be here in Baltimore, we’ve got a big group of National Guard and Youth ChalleNGe guests here cheering us on and that’s always cool to have that support for an event.”