National Guard Chevy a Rocket Early, But Contact with Hunter-Reay Sends Panther Backwards
NEWTON, Iowa - (June 24, 2012) – National Guard Panther Racing driver JR Hildebrand was on a mission early in the Iowa Corn Indy 250 at Iowa Speedway Saturday night, but contact with the outside retaining wall sent Panther to the garage early with a 22nd-place finish. At the time of the contact, Hildebrand was ripping his way through the IndyCar Series field after he made contact with the rear of Ryan Hunter-Reay’s Chevrolet while attempting to pass the Andretti Autosport driver early in the race. The contact forced the team into an unscheduled pit stop to make a front wing change, which put Hildebrand three laps down early in the race.
“I feel terrible for the entire National Guard and Hiring Our Heroes team right now, we had such a good car that I had everybody believing that with a couple of yellows we could get back on the lead lap and motor up to the front,” Hildebrand explained. “The car was really that good. With (Ryan) Hunter-Reay I just washed up into this wake and had a huge run on him, and when you’re that close the car doesn’t turn as much as you want it to and I missed not hitting him by a couple inches.”
Panther’s 24-year-old Californian proceeded to charge through the field, passing his way through the entire grid up to third position in an attempt to get his laps back. A caution flag on Lap 68 for contact involving Will Power and EJ Viso allowed JR to get the wave-around and get one of his laps back, but it was shortly after the restart on Lap 84 that the No. 4 car pushed high in the fourth turn and made contact with the wall.
“We were a few laps down, but man, we were hauling the mail and the National Guard Chevy was so fast,” JR continued. “We’ve had a lot of bum luck this year, and the Panther guys have been doing great in the pits, but just haven’t been catching breaks, and to throw one away with a silly mistake on my part is really a bummer for the guys.”
Hunter-Reay was the eventual race winner as Chevrolet swept the entire podium, as Marco Andretti and Tony Kanaan finished second and third, respectively.
The IZOD IndyCar Series will take a weekend off before traveling to Canada in two weeks for a street race in Toronto on July 8th. The Indy Toronto will be broadcast live on ABC at 1:00 pm (EST), with additional coverage provided by the IMS Radio Network, XM Channel 94 and Sirius Channel 212. Practice, qualifying and race coverage is also available on the new IndyCar Mobile app from Verizon.
www.JRHildebrandRacing.com - www.pantherracing.com - www.NationalGuard.com