LONG BEACH, Calif. (Friday, April 17, 2009) -- California native J.R. Hildebrand turned the fastest lap in preparation for the Firestone Indy Lights Grand Prix of Long Beach. Hildebrand's best lap was 1 minute, 15.3923 seconds, 93.972...
LONG BEACH, Calif. (Friday, April 17, 2009) -- California native J.R. Hildebrand turned the fastest lap in preparation for the Firestone Indy Lights Grand Prix of Long Beach. Hildebrand's best lap was 1 minute, 15.3923 seconds, 93.972 mph. Jonathan Bomarito was second, and Stefan Wilson was third.
Qualifying for the IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights is scheduled for Saturday. Both series will race on the Streets of Long Beach for the first time on Sunday.
Firestone has named Conquest Racing owner Eric Bachelart the honorary starter for the 45-lap Firestone Indy Lights. Bachelart won the Indy Lights race at Long Beach in 1991 and went on to win the series championship.
ERIC BACHELART: "I'd like to start by saying that I am touched to be honored by Firestone this weekend. I can't believe that it's already been 18 years since I won my first Firestone Indy Lights race. Long Beach has always been a special place to go to -- not just because of the memories I have but because there is always such a great atmosphere."
FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS POST-PRACTICE QUOTES:
J.R. HILDEBRAND (No. 26 ARPRO, fastest of the day): "It's always good to end the first day on top, and know we have a good car. We made a bunch of changes throughout the session and every one of them was a positive change. We knew we had some things to fix from the morning session that would help us gain speed and we actually made the car better in the afternoon session."
(About racing in his home state): "It's great to be here in California. We're here in the sun and it's a climate we're used to. It's also AFS Racing's home event. It should be a good race on Sunday, and we should be able to start up front. Looking for a good, solid finish for the ARPRO boys."
JONATHAN BOMARITO (No. 63 Genoa/Mathiasen Motorsports, second): "It feels good to be up front in my first day. The team is doing a really good job. I don't have a lot of seat time in this car, but I know the track and feel more comfortable every outing. I'm able to work the car harder and harder. I think we have something very promising for qualifying tomorrow. We need to find a little more time to catch J.R. (Hildebrand), because he was very quick at the end (of the session). What I need is a good night's sleep and feel better. I've been sick and I'm starting to feel really bad after that session. I'm happy. I'm excited to be in Long Beach. It's amazing event to be part of."
STEFAN WILSON (No. 19 SWS/Walker Racing, third): "I'm pretty pleased with today. I just need to find a few more tenths (of a second) to be in contention for the pole. It's hard to figure out where we're going to find the time to beat (J.R.) Hildebrand. We'll just study the data and figure out what I can do."
(About working with Walker Racing): "It's great to be working with one of the most well-known teams in racing. We began working with the team at St. Pete and they've been fantastic. They are really professional and they have the same mindset as me, which is we both want to win. I think it will be a good combination."
SATURDAY'S SCHEDULE (all times local):
8:45-9:30 a.m. Firestone Indy Lights Qualifying