IndyCar Driver Preview: JR Hildebrand

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#4 JR Hildebrand

  • Team: Panther Racing
  • Engine: Chevrolet
  • Sponsors: National Guard
  • 2012: 11th place, 2 Top Fives

2012 WRAP: It was largely an anonymous sophomore year for the driver who came oh-so-close to winning the 2011 Indianapolis 500. Hildebrand equaled his number of top-five finishes and improved from 14th to 11th in the final points standings, but failed to score a podium result. A midseason technical partnership established with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing allowed Hildebrand the benefit of a teammate in Oriol Servia to bounce information off of.

2013 OUTLOOK: Compared to some of the other younger drivers in the field, Hildebrand didn’t have many “wow” moments last year. His and the Panther/DRR team’s qualifying was challenging; Hildebrand averaged a starting position of only 16th in the 10 road and street course races, with just one top-10 start. Adding Tino Belli to the team’s engineering strength will help, but this is a year the team’s pace needs to improve or Hildebrand risks further anonymity despite his talent on hand.