J.R. Hildebrand will race Indy 500 and rest of ovals in 2022 season for A.J. Foyt Racing

Hildebrand Indy Foyt
Brian Spurlock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
0 Comments

J.R. Hildebrand was named an oval driver for A.J. Foyt Racing on Friday and will make his season debut next week at Texas Motor Speedway.

Hildebrand will share the No. 11 Chevrolet with Tatiana Calderon, the Colombian hired to race the street and road courses this year in the team’s third full-time car (which is sponsored by ROKiT). Calderon, the only woman in the IndyCar field, has no oval experience.

Hildebrand has 66 career IndyCar starts, including 11 straight starts in the Indianapolis 500. He nearly won the race as a rookie in 2011 but crashed as the leader entering the final turn and was passed by Dan Wheldon for the win. Hildebrand finished second.

Driving a fourth entry for Foyt, Hildebrand finished 15th in the Indy 500 last year.

“I’m excited to have this opportunity to get back in the car, do a little more racing, and work with the A.J. Foyt Racing squad again,” Hildebrand said. “Although the results may not have looked special on paper, I was really impressed by what we accomplished last year at the 500 and look forward to attacking these other ovals on the IndyCar schedule.”

Hildebrand will be teammates with rookie Kyle Kirkwood and Dalton Kellett, who both drive the full IndyCar schedule for Foyt.

Hildebrand will run at Texas next Sunday, Indianapolis in May, the July doubleheader at Iowa and finally at Gateway in August. It will mark the first IndyCar season since 2017 in which Hildebrand has started a race beyond the Indy 500.

“We had a great experience working with J.R. last year, and there is no doubt he is very competitive at Indianapolis,” team president Larry Foyt said. “He is still very motivated to drive Indy cars and is a setup-savvy, technical driver who will be a strong addition to our oval races this year.”

Jack Miller wins the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix as Fabio Quartararo stops his downward points’ slide

0 Comments

Jack Miller ran away with the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi as Fabio Quartararo stopped his downward slide in the championship when a last-lap accident from his closest rival in the standings caused Francesco Bagnaia to score zero points.

Starting seventh, Miller quickly made his way forward. He was second at the end of two laps. One lap later, he grabbed the lead from Jorge Martin. Once in the lead, Miller posted three consecutive fastest laps and was never seriously challenged. It was Australian native Miller’s first race win of the season and his sixth podium finish.

The proximity to his home turf was not lost.

“I can ride a motorcycle sometimes,” Miller said in NBC Sports’ post-race coverage. “I felt amazing all weekend since I rolled out on the first practice. It feels so awesome to be racing on this side of the world.

“What an amazing day. It’s awesome; we have the home Grand Prix coming up shortly. Wedding coming up in a couple of weeks. I’m over the moon; can’t thank everyone enough.”

Miller beat Brad Binder to the line by 3.4 seconds with third-place Jorge Martin finishing about one second behind.

But the center of the storm was located just inside the top 10 as both Quartararo and Bagnaia started deep in the field.

Quartararo was on the outside of row three in ninth with Bagnaia one row behind in 12th. Neither rider moved up significantly, but the championship continued to be of primary importance as Bagnaia put in a patented late-race charge to settle onto Quartararo’s back tire, which would have allowed the championship leader to gain only a single point.

On the final lap, Bagnaia charged just a little too hard and crashed under heavy braking, throwing away the seven points he would have earned for a ninth-place finish.

The day was even more dramatic for the rider who entered the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix third in the standings. On the sighting lap, Aleix Espargaro had an alarm sound, so he peeled off into the pits, dropped his primary bike and jumped aboard the backup. Starting from pit lane, he trailed the field and was never able to climb into the points. An undisclosed electronic problem was the culprit.

For Quartararo, gaining eight points on the competition was more than a moral victory. This was a track on which he expected to run moderately, and he did, but the problems for his rivals gives him renewed focus with four rounds remaining.

Next week, the series heads to Thailand and then Miller’s home track of Phillip Island in Australia. They will close out the Pacific Rim portion of the schedule before heading to Spain for the finale in early November.

It would appear team orders are not in play among the Ducati riders. Last week’s winner Enea Bastianini made an aggressive early move on Bagnaia for position before the championship contender wrestled the spot back.

In his second race back following arm surgery, Marc Marquez won the pole. His last pole was more than 1,000 days ago on this same track in 2019, the last time the series competed at Motegi. Marquez slipped to fifth in the middle stages of the race, before regaining a position to finish just off the podium.

In Moto2 competition, Ai Ogura beat Augusto Fernandez to close the gap in that championship to two points. Fernandez holds the scant lead. Alonso Lopez rounded out the podium.

Both American riders, Cameron Beaubier and Joe Roberts finished just outside the top 10 in 11th and 12th respectively.