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Dreyer & Reinbold Racing confirm J.R. Hildebrand to drive second entry for Indy 500

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It’s confirmed: J.R. Hildebrand will race in this year’s Indianapolis 500.

And with it, bumping will return to the Greatest Spectacle In Racing. Hildebrand’s entry marks 34 drivers/cars that have announced they’ll attempt to qualify for the 102nd Running of the Indy 500. One of those will ultimately fail to qualify and will go home, unable to make the 33-car field.

This is the first year there will be bumping to fill the field since 2015, when former Indy 500 winner Buddy Lazier failed to make the race when he was bumped out.

Dreyer & Reinbold Racing announced in a Thursday afternoon teleconference that Hildebrand will drive a second entry for the team in the May 27th race.

“At Dreyer & Reinbold we’ve had 37 cars start the Indy 500 over the past close to 20 years now,” team co-owner Dennis Reinbold said. “So we’re looking forward to adding to that number, really going out there and trying to do whatever we can to win the race.”

Hildebrand will pilot the No. 66 Chevrolet, with Salesforce being the primary sponsor on the car. Hildebrand will race alongside teammate Sage Karam, who will be in the No. 24 for Dreyer & Reinbold for the third consecutive year.

It will be somewhat of a return home for Hildebrand, who began his IndyCar career in 2010 with DRR.

“My first call to the big leagues was from Dennis,” Hildebrand said. “We’ve obviously been in the same Chevy camp over the last few years out at Indy.

“We were always really impressed with the speed, just performance of the guys at Dreyer. When I started working on getting this year figured out, it was an obvious phone call to make from my side. I’m excited we were able to get it all put together.”

It’s the first time the DRR team has had a second entry in the Indy 500 since 2011.

“We went out and over the off-season made the decision to ramp up our efforts to get two additional cars, so we have three total in our stable that we are able to run, so a backup car along with our 24 car primary and 66 car primary,” Reinbold said. “There’s a lot of work.

“Expanding from one car to two cars to run, you’re talking about additional pit equipment, you’re talking about additional wheel guns, radios, all kinds of things that you wouldn’t necessarily think of right off the top of your head.

“So there’s a lot to it. We’ve been working pretty much all off-season on acquiring equipment and putting things together. Both of our cars have been painted at this stage, so I’m pretty excited about that. That always kind of indicates you’re getting ready to start the road to the Speedway.”

MORE: Dreyer & Reinbold to announced second Indy 500 entry/driver Thursday

Hildebrand will be making his eighth appearance in the Indy 500. He almost won it in his rookie season in 2011, but crashed while in the lead coming out of Turn 4.

Still, he managed to eek out enough momentum from the crash to slide his mangled ride across the finish line in second place.

The 30-year-old native of Sausalito, California, started on Row 2 of last year’s race, but finished 16th for Ed Carpenter Racing.

Dreyer & Reinbold, which is based in Indianapolis, plans on using this year’s 500 as a starting off point to build a full-time entry in the IndyCar Series in 2019.

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F1 Preview: 2018 German Grand Prix

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The German Grand Prix continues its biennial presence on the Formula 1 calendar – it’s hosted F1 events in even numbered years since 2014 – as Formula 1 returns to the Hockenheimring this weekend.

The German fans will undoubtedly be joyful in Sebastian Vettel entering his home race in the championship lead, by nine points over Lewis Hamilton. Yet, somewhat surprisingly, Vettel despite being one of the most successful and decorated drivers of his generation, Vettel has won in Germany only once (2013, at the Nurburgring) and he has never won at Hockenheim.

Conversely, Hamilton has won in Germany three times, including twice at Hockenheim (2008 and 2016).

As such, Vettel will hope to add to his points lead over Hamilton with a win on home soil, though Hamilton may be equally as motivated after watching Vettel his own home race at Silverstone two weeks ago.

Nevertheless, their 2018 championship duel will most certainly continue to be closely fought.

Talking points ahead of the German Grand Prix are below.

A Different World in 2018 vs. 2016

Nico Rosberg during the Formula One Grand Prix of Germany at Hockenheimring on July 31, 2016 in Hockenheim, Germany. Photo: Getty Images

The Formula 1 landscape looked completely different back in 2016, the last time Formula 1 visited the Hockenheimring. Bernie Ecclestone was still the chief executive of Formula 1.

Nico Rosberg was partnering Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes team, and was on his way to a driver’s championship that year.

Vettel and teammate Kimi Raikkonen were in the midst of a slump as Ferrari went winless in 2016.

The world was still getting to know a then 18-year-old Max Verstappen, the young Dutchman having won the Spanish Grand Prix in May that year.

And the cars looked completely different, with skinnier and taller rear wings and taller rear tires highlighting the appearance differences.

In 2018, Vettel and Ferrari might be the strongest combination. Rosberg is long from Mercedes, and Valtteri Bottas is doing his best to shine in the wake of Hamilton’s enormous shadow.

Verstappen is still a rising star, though he has come under fire at times for overly aggressive driving and his Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo has garnered more headlines this year, with a pair of race wins alongside his status as an F1 free agent after 2018.

In short, the Formula 1 landscape is hardly recognizable from what it was back in 2016. And even though Hamilton won that year, followed by Ricciardo and Verstappen in second and third, very little will carry over from that race two years ago.

Hamilton, Mercedes Look to Take Back Momentum from Vettel, Ferrari

NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND – JULY 08: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes WO9 leads Sebastian Vettel of Germany driving the (5) Scuderia Ferrari SF71H on track during the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone on July 8, 2018 in Northampton, England. (Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images)

The seesaw championship fight has tilted back in the favor of Ferrari, with Vettel leading Hamilton after finishes of third and first in Austria and England. Hamilton, meanwhile, DNF’ed in Austria and came home second in England after spinning on Lap 1.

Hamilton trails by nine points, but this is hardly an unfamiliar position for Hamilton in 2018 – he started the year trailing Vettel until he took the championship lead for the first time after the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Both teams have had multiple swings of momentum this year – Vettel won the opening two races before finishes of eighth in China (he spun after contact with Verstappen) and a pair of fourth place efforts in Azerbaijan and Spain before getting two more wins in Canada and England.

Hamilton, meanwhile stumbled out of the gates somewhat with finishes of second and third before taking a fortuitous win in Azerbaijan and two dominant wins in Spain and France before the misfortune in Austria.

All told the ebb and flow of the 2018 season seems to change with every race, and while Vettel now leads Hamilton again, things could change this weekend.

Raikkonen Trying to Fend off Ricciardo, Bottas

NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND – JULY 06: Kimi Raikkonen of Finland driving the (7) Scuderia Ferrari SF71H on track during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone on July 6, 2018 in Northampton, England. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Kimi Raikkonen is somewhat of a forgotten man this Formula 1 season, but he does rank third in the championship at the moment, 10 points ahead of Ricciardo and 12 points ahead of Bottas.

However, both Ricciardo and Bottas are likely thought to have had better seasons – Ricciardo has the aforementioned wins (at China and Monaco) and the only thing that has kept Bottas from the top step of the podium is a string of horrendous luck.

However, Raikkonen, to his credit, has picked up the pieces whenever others around him have faltered, and he has six podium finishes through 10 races.

However, in order to fully silence any critics, and maybe even keep his Ferrari drive, Raikkonen would do well to get a win in 2018.

Misc.

  • The driver challenging Raikkonen’s position within Ferrari is Sauber’s Charles Leclerc. The Ferrari junior driver has five points finishes, and that could have been six if not for a pit stop error at Silverstone that caused him to leave his pit stall with a loose wheel – it forced him to retire. Leclerc’s star is on the rise, and he could shine again in Germany.
  • Nico Hulkenberg is the “other” German driver on the grid. And though he has a 24 Hours of Le Mans win to his name, he is yet to finish on the podium in an F1 race. The Renault package may not be a podium threat in usual circumstances, but if he stays clean and others falter, he could sneak in there…and doing so in his home race would make that overdue podium even sweeter.
  • After a pair of eighth place finishes, Fernando Alonso has helped McLaren at least stop the bleeding after a dismal stretch of races from Monaco through France in which the team scored zero points. However, the team still has a long way to go, and Germany could be another weekend of struggles.

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