Wild Baltimore GP leaves Panther’s JR Hildebrand in 12th

Baltimore, MD – In what turned out to be a wild – and sometimes wet – Grand Prix of Baltimore, National Guard Panther Racing driver JR Hildebrand finished the day with a 12th-place result. Hildebrand, who missed qualifications because of a practice crash early Saturday, started at the rear of the field but was running as high as third position during the middle portion of the race.

J.R. Hildebrand, Panther Racing Chevrolet
J.R. Hildebrand, Panther Racing Chevrolet

Photo by: xpb.cc

Hildebrand was later caught behind a slow car on a restart and then suffered damage to the front wing of his National Guard Chevy that ultimately sent the 24-year-old Californian back down to the middle of the grid.

Hildebrand started in 23rd position but wasted little time in climbing the grid, despite an avoidable contact penalty when he made contact with Bruno Junqueira during a pile-up on Lap 14. His subsequent drive-through penalty – the first of his IndyCar career – did little to slow Panther’s rise to the front of the grid.

The team elected to stick with its slick Firestone tires during what quickly became a tenuous portion of the race, as light rain conditions left several teams debating between staying on slicks or changing to rain tires. Between a series of caution periods Hildebrand passed his way up into the Top Three by Lap 33 just prior to another full-course caution for James Jakes, who stuck his No. 19 car into the tire barrier at Turn 12.

On the Lap 36 restart Hildebrand was stuck behind Takuma Sato, who was slow to take the green flag, allowing several cars to pass both Sato and the National Guard car. After yet another caution period, Hildebrand again damaged his front wing during a stack-up of cars on Lap 42 and had to make a lengthy pit stop for another nose that set the Panther team back to 17th position. Hildebrand spent the final stint battling with fellow American Graham Rahal before the race ended with the team in the 12th position.

With one race remaining in the 2012 season Panther travels to California Speedway, where in Panther’s history the team has captured two race victories (2002, 2003 with Sam Hornish Jr.) and in 2003 set the closed-course speed record for average speed during a race with an average speed of 207.151 mph.

The team last raced at California Speedway in 2005 with Tomas Scheckter and Tomas Enge in what – at the time – was Chevrolet’s last IndyCar Series race before returning this season. Scheckter led 80 laps in that race before finishing in the seventh position.

JR Hildebrand, No. 4 National Guard Chevrolet: “It was kind of a bummer of a day, things just didn't go our way towards the end of the race. We stayed out on slicks when it started to rain and that was definitely the right call. We got ourselves up into the top five legitimately, but we kind of got hosed on a restart; the pole sitter was kind of just sleeping on the restart and I got stuck behind him and couldn’t find a way around which put us into sixth or seventh.

We were looking to have a really good day and with five laps before we were going to pit, I clipped off the right side of the front wing and that just hosed our day at that point. I lost a few spots right there because of that, and then having to make the nose change in pit lane cost us an extra fifteen seconds, which at that stage put us behind all the cars we should have been ahead of.

I was al ittle overly aggressive at a couple points during the race and that ended up costing us. But the National Guard Chevy guys did an awesome job today, and that’s what makes it so disappointing. We picked the perfect strategy today and because I made a couple mistakes things just didn’t pan out.”

Source: Panther Racing

shares
comments
Pagenaud finishes third for Honda in wild Baltimore run
Previous article

Pagenaud finishes third for Honda in wild Baltimore run

Next article

Barrichello 5th and Viso 9th are top 10 for KVR on Baltimore GP

Barrichello 5th and Viso 9th are top 10 for KVR on Baltimore GP
Load comments
Ranking the top 10 IndyCar drivers of 2021 Prime

Ranking the top 10 IndyCar drivers of 2021

In an enthralling 2021 IndyCar campaign, the series bounced back from its COVID-19 truncated year prior and series sophomore Alex Palou defeated both the established order and his fellow young guns to clinch a maiden title. It capped a remarkable season with plenty of standout performers

IndyCar
Nov 22, 2021
How Marcus Ericsson finally unlocked his potential in IndyCar Prime

How Marcus Ericsson finally unlocked his potential in IndyCar

Marcus Ericsson enjoyed a breakout year in the IndyCar Series in 2021, winning twice and finishing sixth in points with Chip Ganassi Racing. How did he finally unlock the potential that was masked by five years of toil in Formula 1 with Caterham and Sauber/Alfa Romeo?

IndyCar
Nov 16, 2021
Remembering Dan Wheldon and his last and most amazing win Prime

Remembering Dan Wheldon and his last and most amazing win

Saturday, Oct. 16th, marks the 10th anniversary Dan Wheldon’s death. David Malsher-Lopez pays tribute, then asks Wheldon’s race engineer from 2011, Todd Malloy, to recall that magical second victory at the Indianapolis 500.

IndyCar
Oct 16, 2021
Have Harvey and RLL formed IndyCar’s next winning match-up? Prime

Have Harvey and RLL formed IndyCar’s next winning match-up?

Jack Harvey’s move to Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing sparked plenty of debate, but their combined strength could prove golden, says David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Oct 15, 2021
Why Kyle Kirkwood is America's new IndyCar ace-in-waiting Prime

Why Kyle Kirkwood is America's new IndyCar ace-in-waiting

Kyle Kirkwood, the record-setting junior formula driver, sealed the Indy Lights championship last weekend. But despite an absurdly strong résumé and scholarship money, his next move is far from clear. By David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Oct 6, 2021
2021 IndyCar title is just the start for Ganassi's newest star Prime

2021 IndyCar title is just the start for Ganassi's newest star

Alex Palou has captured Chip Ganassi Racing's 14th IndyCar drivers' championship, and in truly stellar manner. David Malsher-Lopez explains what made the Palou-Ganassi combo so potent so soon.

IndyCar
Sep 28, 2021
Why Grosjean's oval commitment shows he's serious about IndyCar Prime

Why Grosjean's oval commitment shows he's serious about IndyCar

One of motorsport’s worst-kept secrets now out in the open, and Romain Grosjean has been confirmed as an Andretti Autosport IndyCar driver in 2022. It marks a remarkable turnaround after the abrupt end to his Formula 1 career, and is a firm indication of his commitment to challenge for the IndyCar Series title  

IndyCar
Sep 24, 2021
IndyCar’s longest silly-season is still at fever pitch Prime

IndyCar’s longest silly-season is still at fever pitch

The 2021 IndyCar silly season is one of the silliest of all, but it’s satisfying to see so many talented drivers in play – including Callum Ilott. David Malsher-Lopez reports.

IndyCar
Sep 11, 2021