BALTIMORE CHICANE BITES HILDEBRAND, MISSES QUALS AFTER PRACTICE CRASH
BALTIMORE, Maryland (September 1, 2012) – Panther Racing and driver JR Hildebrand will start at the back of the pack for Sunday’s Baltimore Grand Prix after an incident during morning practice sent the No. 4 National Guard Chevy into the wall. Towards the end of the wet morning practice session Hildebrand got lose as his car went over the newly added chicanes and hit the outside wall along the start-finish straight-away causing damage to the left side suspension.
“We didn’t qualify today and we’ll be starting last because I crashed this morning in practice. It’s a major bummer for the guys; obviously they’re having to work really hard to fix the car,” said Hildebrand. “It was just a particularly inopportune time to have that happen, especially with qualifying being back-to-back with that session and there’s just not that much time in between, so that’s certainly frustrating. “
With qualifying starting soon after the morning practice session ended, the team opted to skip the afternoon qualifying session in order to make the necessary repairs for the race on Sunday. Because the team will have no qualifying time logged, Hildebrand will start the Baltimore Grand Prix in 25th position.
“I think we’ll consider our options today. There were a lot of guys that had very similar issues and accidents in qualifying today and they’ll be starting at the back with us,” explained Hildebrand. “A lot of those guys are the ones that we’re fighting for position in the championship right now. So that’s kind have gone our way a bit.”
Several other drivers, including Graham Rahal, Ed Carpenter, Justin Wilson, were also caught out by the chicanes and experienced similar accidents to Hildebrand’s during the qualifying session bringing out multiple red flags, and causing the drivers to lose their qualifying times. Hildebrand and the Panther team will continue to make repairs tonight to get the car ready for the Sunday morning warm up session, and with rain in the forecast for tomorrow’s race the Baltimore Grand Prix is sure to be action packed.
“We’re in a position now where we have three sets of sticker red tires for tomorrow, and I think we’ve got some options when it comes to strategy,” concluded Hildebrand. “It’s not the optimal way to go into the race, but there are some small upsides that hopefully we’ll be able to take advantage of in tomorrow’s race.”
The Baltimore Grand Prix will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network at 2:45pm (ET) with additional coverage provided by the IMS Radio Network, XM channel 94 and Sirius channel 212.