IZOD IndyCar Rookie of the Year Points Leader Returns to Track Where He Made IndyCar Debut in 2010
INDIANAPOLIS, IN (August 5, 2011) – National Guard driver JR Hildebrand and the Panther Racing crew finished in the 16th position during Friday’s practice session in preparations for the fifth Honda Indy 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The IZOD IndyCar Series returns to the 2.25 mile, 13-turn track as Mid-Ohio celebrates its 50th year in racing. This narrow, natural terrain track with elevation change, sweeping corners, tight turns and a challenging pit entry will test driver skill and offer great action for IZOD IndyCar Series fans.
Hildebrand turned a total of 24 practice laps on Friday and finished with a top speed of 115.142, 1:10.5981 seconds. There will be another practice session tomorrow morning prior to IZOD IndyCar Series Firestone Fast Six qualifications. A total of 27 entries participated in today’s practice session, with the driver of the No. 38 car posting the fastest lap speed and he was followed on the chart by KV Racing driver EJ Viso and current championship points leader Dario Franchitti.
The Mid-Ohio road course marks the only track so far this season that National Guard Panther Racing driver JR Hildebrand has had previous IndyCar experience. The young rookie is looking forward to returning to the track where he made his IndyCar debut last year, finishing 16th for Dreyer and Reinbold Racing. Panther also participated in a one-day test here late last week, the first time all season that Hildebrand has tested as a venue immediately prior to racing there.
The last four years at Mid-Ohio has seen Panther finish 14th in 2010 and 16th in 2009 with driver Dan Wheldon, 6th in 2008 and 17th in 2007 with Vitor Meira, and 12th in 2007 with Kosuke Matsuura.
After climbing 13 positions to finish 11th at Edmonton, Hildebrand is tied for ninth place in the IZOD IndyCar Championship with Helio Castroneves, and is only six points away from 8th place. Securing the finish at Edmonton also bumped Hildebrand’s Rookie of the Year points lead over James Hinchcliffe to 39 points, a lead that Hildebrand is hoping to increase after this weekend’s Honda Indy 200.
The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio will be broadcast Sunday, August 7th at 2:00pm ET onVersus, with additional coverage provided by the IMS Radio Network, XM channel 94 and Sirius channel 212.
JR Hildebrand, No. 4 National Guard Dallara Honda:
“Having competed here last year is big for me because I’ve been here and I’ve got some baseline for what it feels like when a car has been good. And we feel pretty good about where we are right now, and being able to test here last week was a big help. We were reasonably competitive at Mid-Ohio last year (at Dreyer & Reinbold) and then even more so at Infineon so those being the next two road courses we go to, I’m excited about some of the things we’ve already learned. We’re ready this year and with test days for both the races it gives us the change to work out what we’ve been doing right and do things we want to try and still have plenty of time to sort everything out on the race weekend.”