Homestead: RLR/Andersen Racing preview

RLR/Andersen Racing Ready to Start 2008 Indy Pro Series PALMETTO, Fla., March 26 - There's no place like Home(stead) for RLR/Andersen Racing, unless of course it's the team's new "home" race, the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Both are on...

RLR/Andersen Racing Ready to Start 2008 Indy Pro Series

PALMETTO, Fla., March 26 - There's no place like Home(stead) for RLR/Andersen Racing, unless of course it's the team's new "home" race, the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Both are on the docket for the Palmetto, Fla.-based team's Indy Pro Series squad in the next two weeks. Drivers Andrew Prendeville of Las Vegas (Best Friends Animal Society No. 5) and J.R. Hildebrand of Indianapolis (RLR/Andersen Racing No. 25) will try to rack up as many points as possible in their season opener this Saturday afternoon, March 29, at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Fla., as well as at the doubleheader that is part of the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on Saturday and Sunday, April 5-6, on that Florida city's street course.

RLR/Andersen Racing fielded two cars in the Indy Pro Series last year from its base in Fairfield, N.J., but moved to Palmetto, Fla., near St. Petersburg, in November. The team headquarters are now on the grounds of the 18-acre Andersen RacePark, a facility that includes a 1-mile road course test track.

Prendeville, 26, who moved from New Jersey to Las Vegas over the Christmas holiday, is beginning his second season of Indy Pro Series action, as is the team. Prendeville finished fifth in his first Indy Pro Series race ever at Homestead last year, and he gave RLR/Andersen Racing its first podium finish in the series in the next-to-last race of the 2007 season.

Hildebrand, 20, a native of Sausalito, Calif., will be going for the Lucas Oil Rookie of the Year award in 2008. Saturday's race at Homestead will be his first oval-track race ever, although he's tested an Indy Pro Series car on the ovals at Homestead and Nashville previously. He's anxious to get back to work with RLR/Andersen Racing's Dominic and Nicholas Cape, with whom he won 12 of 14 Formula 2000 races in 2006 enroute to that championship.

The next day, Monday, March 31, Prendeville and Hildebrand will be off to Sebring themselves, exchanging Homestead's variable banking of 18 to 20 degrees in the turns for the short course at Sebring for a one-day test. Then they're off to St. Petersburg, where the team will try to quickly arrive at the best set-up possible for that city's 1.8-mile, 14-turn flat city-street course.

There won't be much time to tweak set-ups at St. Pete either, as again there are just two hours of practice (9:25 a.m. and 4:45 p.m.) on Friday, April 4 before qualifying at 10:05 a.m. Saturday morning, April 5. The first 40-lap Indy Pro Series race at St. Petersburg gets the green flag at 4:45 p.m. Saturday, April 5. The next day there is a 10-minute warm-up at 8:05 a.m. followed by the second half of the doubleheader at 10:45 a.m. that Sunday morning. Both of the St. Petersburg Indy Pro Series races will be carried live on and also shown on ESPN2 at 2 p.m. April 10.

Andrew Prendeville: "We've really worked hard in the off-season from a team perspective, a car perspective and a Racing Laps for Best Friends perspective. I think as a whole we're ready to go. I'm excited to get back in the race car and go racing again.

"The most challenging thing about Homestead will be racing in a pack. There are a lot of new guys in the series, and there will be a lot of anxiety throughout the field. You're banking on other people's rational decisions, and sometimes that doesn't work out too well.

"For St. Pete, for the first time in Andersen Racing's history we'll have a home race, as we're now based in Palmetto. It's a doubleheader, so it's an important event for the championship.

"I'm excited to get back to that track. It's a fantastic venue and a fun track to drive. I'll be going there for the second time, so hopefully we'll be able to perform better there."

J.R. Hildebrand: "Homestead will be my first oval race ever in anything except on my computer.

"We tested last Friday at Homestead. That helped me get a feel for what it's like in a draft.

"The only other time I drove an RLR/Andersen Indy Pro Series car was at Infineon last year. I passed my Indy Pro Series rookie test on an oval at Nashville, but that was with another team.

"It's definitely going to be a challenge. I have to get used to a new car and new tracks, and half of them are ovals. That'll be different from what I'm used to but I'm not concerned because I have a good team.

"Homestead will be my first race on an oval, but I'm looking forward to trying something new. America is one of the few countries that have oval tracks, so if you're an American like I am you look forward to doing ovals in your career.

"St. Pete is a local race for us. I lived there for a year when I raced with the Capes. I also attended the race last year. What Honda and Andretti Green do to promote the event makes it a great weekend for racing there. Many members of our team will be sleeping in their own beds, which is nice. I'm really looking forward to the whole event."

John Andersen (team co-owner and Indy Pro Series team manager): "I'm looking forward to Homestead, St. Pete and the whole season. I feel we have two very qualified, talented drivers. I feel very comfortable with the set-up we arrived at in testing. Andrew is comfortable with how the car will run. J.R. has never raced at Homestead, but we have a lot more knowledge going into this race than we had last year, so we're optimistic."

-credit: rlr/ar

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About this article
Series Indy Lights
Drivers Andrew Prendeville , J.R. Hildebrand