RLR/Andersen's Hildebrand Finishes Sixth And Prendeville Places Eighth In Second Half of Mid-Ohio Doubleheader Sunday LEXINGTON, Ohio, July 20 - It was a bizarre race, but it was still two top-10 finishes for RLR/Andersen Racing in Firestone...
RLR/Andersen's Hildebrand Finishes Sixth And Prendeville Places Eighth In Second Half of Mid-Ohio Doubleheader Sunday
LEXINGTON, Ohio, July 20 - It was a bizarre race, but it was still two top-10 finishes for RLR/Andersen Racing in Firestone Indy Lights action Sunday at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
A thunderstorm delayed the race for an hour and caused it to be shorted from 40 laps to a timed event that ended up being 20 laps long. Numerous spins and crashes on the wet course gave the race's lap chart a plot with more twists than a soap opera, but in the end the Palmetto, Fla.-based team's J.R. Hildebrand placed sixth and Andrew Prendeville finished eighth in the second half of the weekend doubleheader.
Hildebrand spun out twice in the team's Allied Building Products No. 25, while Prendeville went around once at the start with his Best Friends Animal Society No. 5. Many of their rivals had similar or even worse experiences in the wild race, however.
Hildebrand started fifth. He dropped to eighth initially, and then fell back to 17th when he spun with four laps complete. He regrouped to 13th by lap eight, but then spun again to be back in 18th position with nine laps down. He was able to quickly make up three spots, although at that point he was the last driver on the lead lap.
Drivers in front of him were having similar problems, and in the last 5 minutes of the race Hildebrand went from 12th to sixth. He got one spot when leader Mitch Cunningham wrecked with 18 laps down, three more when Robbie Pecorari, Richard Antinucci and Logan Gomez crashed with 19 laps complete, and another one when he passed Sean Guthrie. The final position was a present from leader Jonny Reid. He had the race wrapped up, but due to a miscue he pitted on the last lap instead of taking the checkered flag, giving Hildebrand sixth and James Davison the victory.
Prendeville started ninth. He said the spray was so bad he couldn't even see where he was when he spun on the first lap. He wasn't the only one to do that, as Saturday's winner, Raphael Matos; Cyndie Allemann and Wade Cunningham also went around on the initial green. Arie Luyendyk Jr. went for a ride on lap two as well.
Prendeville started over from 19th position on lap two. He was 17th by lap four, and he was scored in 16th or 15th for the next few laps. He had a great restart on lap eight, vaulting to 12th, and he cracked the top 10 again on lap 10 when Franck Perera and Luyendyk had problems.
Prendeville stayed in tenth through lap 13, dropped to 11th on lap 14, and regained tenth on lap 15. He dropped to 12th again on lap 17, but he benefited from some of his rivals' problems like Hildebrand did to move into ninth with 19 laps down. He got eighth when Reid pitted prematurely.
James Davison ended up being the surprise winner, with Wade Cunningham second and Pablo Donoso third.
Hildebrand is still fourth in the point standings after Sunday's race, just 51 points behind leader Antinucci and nine points ahead of the fifth-place driver, Luyendyk. Prendeville moved up one spot to tenth place in the championship with four races remaining.
RLR/Andersen Racing, which is sponsored by Allied Building Products Corp., is fourth in the entrant standings with the No. 25. The team, which is the official development team of Hilliard, Ohio's Rahal Letterman Racing, is ninth in the entrant points with the No. 5 car.
ESPN2 will show both Saturday and Sunday's races at 2 p.m. Eastern on Thursday, July 24.
The circuit now travels to Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Ky., for a night race on Aug. 9. A doubleheader at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. Aug. 23-24 and the season finale at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill., on Sept. 7 follow.
The team's Web sites are at andersenracingteam.com and andersenracepark.com. More information on the Firestone Indy Lights series is available at indycar.com/lights.
Post-race quotes follow:
J.R. Hildebrand: "I think we would have had a really good race car in the dry, but the Allied Building Products was really loose in the wet conditions. I think it would have been super-fast in the dry, but when the rain came right before the race there wasn't much we could do with the set-up, and I was just really hanging onto it.
"I spun on my own twice; once coming out of Turn 8 and once coming out of Turn 1. I made contact two other times at the end of the race, but that was just being in tight corners with other cars.
"I was glad to bring it home in sixth. We made up some points. It should make the rest of the year very interesting in the points race.
"Yes, in terms of the number of cars crashing and spinning, this was the most bizarre race I've ever been in. A lot of the top drivers in this series are very good in the wet; we just got caught out today in a mismatched situation."
Andrew Prendeville: "I'm glad it's over. I can't tell you where I spun because I couldn't see.
"We finished all the laps possible this weekend, although that ended up being 60 laps and not 80 because of the thunderstorm. I want to thank everyone who made donations to Best Friends at racinglapsforbestfriends.com."
John Andersen (team co-owner): "The best thing I can say about this weekend is that we came away with four top-10s.
"We solidified our position in the point standings. It's not exactly what we expected coming in, but given the circumstances and the weather today, we'll take it. We didn't damage any cars, and now we'll get ready for Kentucky."