IndyCar Driver Review: JR Hildebrand

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With the IndyCar season in the books and a limited amount of news to come since the season finale at Fontana, my MotorSportsTalk colleague Chris Estrada and are taking a look back at the 2013 season just past. Chris and I each ranked our top 10 drivers and some of the biggest stories; now we take a look back at the field driver-by-driver.

P25 was Panther’s former driver who rebounded briefly with Barracuda Racing, JR Hildebrand…

2013 SEASON PREVIEW

JR Hildebrand

  • Teams: Panther Racing, Barracuda Racing
  • 2012: 11th Place, Best Finish 5th, Best Start 4th
  • 2013: 25th Place (7 Starts), Best Finish 5th, Best Start 10th, 1 Top-5, 1 Top-10, 4 Laps Led, 16.3 Avg. Start, 16.6 Avg. Finish

DiZinno says: At least Alex Tagliani lasted 13 races this year before he and Herta went their separate ways; Hildebrand lasted only five with before his unscheduled appointment with Indy’s Turn 1 wall cost him his seat at Panther Racing. JR had been solid if unspectacular in two and a half seasons, and an engineering change to add Tino Belli would have eventually paid dividends; sadly, we never got to see that bear fruit. But Hildebrand’s stock rose as neither Ryan Briscoe nor Oriol Servia was able to do better, neither beat JR’s best result of fifth, and Hildebrand performed well enough in his two California cameos replacing, incidentally, Tagliani. A second chance at another team would be welcomed for the American driver.

Estrada says: Hildebrand started the 2013 season with a bizarre crash at St. Petersburg and following the Indy 500, it looked like it would end with one as well when he lost his ride with Panther Racing after hitting the wall on Lap 3. But as luck would have it, the California native got to suit up in his home state for Barracuda Racing at Sonoma and Fontana. Hildebrand looked sharp in those two outings, and was even threatening to score an upset win late at Fontana until a mechanical problem knocked him out with less than 20 laps to go. He did himself a favor with that effort going into the off-season, but it remains to be seen if the former Indy Lights champion will make a return in 2014.

X44 Racing win 2022 Extreme E championship as Abt Cupra score first race victory

2022 Extreme E Uruguay
Extreme E
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Abt Cupra Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and Klara Andersson scored their first win in the Extreme E Energy X Prix in the 2022 finale in Uruguay as Lewis Hamilton’s X44 Vida Carbon Racing drivers Sebastien Loeb and Cristina Gutierrez survived a chaotic finale to edge the 2021 champion Rosberg X Prix team of Johan Kristoffersson and Mikhaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky, by two points.

“There are so many emotions,” Andersson said in Extreme E’s coverage. “I’ve been waiting for this for so long. In my second race, first full weekend to be at the top of the podium: it’s big.”

Andersson was behind the wheel at the finish.

Rosberg Racing entered the event with a 17-point advantage over X44, but the standings were close enough that four teams remained in contention in Round 5.

“It’s a crucial weekend for us,” Loeb said in Extreme E’s coverage prior to the race. “We are not in the best position to win the championship, but the only thing we can do is try to win the race and score as many points as possible.”

The top two title contenders each crashed in qualification and were relegated to the Crazy Race, Extreme E’s version of the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ). For the moment, they had the steepest hill to climb, but then the other two championship contending teams, Chip Ganassi Racing and Acciona Sainz Racing failed to advance from their heats.

Only one team advances from the Crazy Race, so the X44 drivers were in a must-win situation to simply keep hope alive.

More: Extreme E 2023 schedule

Ahlin-Kottulinsky and Gutierrez ran wheel to wheel into the first turn at the start of the LCQ.

The Rosberg racer experienced crash damage in that turn that damaged her front steering, but managed to limp back to the pits at the end of her two-lap stint. The team attempted to fix the steering, but incurred a penalty for having too many mechanics in the pit area.

Meanwhile, Gutierrez took the early lead, but knew she would need to sit through a five-second penalty for an incident earlier in the weekend. The female half of the gender equal pair erased the penalty by entering the Switch Zone with a five-second lead before turning the car over to Loeb.

That was all the nine-time World Rally Championship titlist needed to give him the advantage needed to win the Crazy Race.

But the championship was not over yet. X44 Racing needed to finish third or better in the five-car finale to earn enough points for the title and after advancing from the LCQ, they were forced to take the worst grid position.

A chaotic start to the Finale saw Loeb run as high the lead and low as fourth after getting pushed off course during his first lap. And that is how he entered to Switch Zone.

On her first lap, Gutierrez slammed into Molly Taylor. With one lap remaining, X44 and Gutierrez were still in fourth and the title hope was quickly evaporating, but it was announced halfway through the lap that the third-running Andretti United team would suffer a penalty for a Switch Zone infraction. The seven-second deduction for Timmy Hansen braking too late in the zone made the difference in the title.

Coming off a disappointing Copper X Prix when Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour crossed under the checkers first, but were relegated to fifth by penalty, the McLaren pair scored their first podium of the season in second.