Fontana, CA – JR Hildebrand and his Barracuda Racing crew earned an 11th place finish under the lights of Auto Club Speedway on Saturday night to close out the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Season.
The American driver started the evening in 15th place on the starting grid and worked his way up to 10th by lap 50. Just past the 100-lap mark, the team was assessed a drive-through penalty. Barracuda Racing team officials disagreed with the penalty and tried to appeal the decision, to no avail.
Despite going one lap down as a result, Hildebrand was able to gain it back after a full-course yellow, and pit stop, on lap 196.
As the race neared the finish, a full-course yellow came out on with 20 laps to go. Barracuda Racing was in second place on the restart before a mechanical issue ended the solid run early on lap 237. The No. 98 team finished the race in 11th place.
“All in all, we have to be very satisfied with the performance today,” said Hildebrand. “As long as it’s not driver error, my preference would always be to run well, have a shot at it towards the end, and have something like today happen, than just run lousy all day.
“The Barracuda Racing team has done a great job. From yesterday to today with minimal running, to dial the car in, and we kept it more or less in the window for the whole race. We got a little aggressive at points but we did a good job of dialing it back and we would’ve had a great car right at the end because I think we had a good feel for where we were going with it.
“I just want to thank all the Barracuda Racing guys. They worked their butts off this weekend. Also thanks to Bryan [Herta] and Steve [Newey], and all the Barracuda people who came out to the track this weekend. As frustrating as it is to not get the result, I think it’s a positive note to end the season on.”
Team co-owner Bryan Herta added, “Tonight really ended up as a microcosm of our whole season. I can’t say enough about how proud I am of all the Barracuda guys, our sponsors, partners and everyone involved with the team.
“JR did a phenomenal job out there tonight. When it counted at the end, we had a fast car and were in a position to challenge, something out of our control took it away. It’s frustrating from the sense that we didn’t get the result that we deserved, but on the other hand, I’m much happier knowing we ran well and didn’t finish, as opposed to not running well all day.
“We can all go into the off-season knowing that we have a very good group of people. We’re going to work hard for the next few months and come back in St. Pete ready to win.”
The 2014 season kicks off in just over five months on March 30 on the streets of St. Petersburg, FL.