Hildebrand, National Guard Panther Team Look to Build Momentum at Alabama Road Course

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (April 2, 2013) – After an early exit in the IndyCar Series season opener on the Streets of St. Petersburg, JR Hildebrand and the National Guard Panther Racing team are prepared to tackle the Indy Grand Prix of Alabama this Sunday afternoon at Barber Motorsports Park. The team tested at Barber just three weeks ago on the 17-turn, 2.38-mile permanent road course, and with track times exceeded previous speed records, Hildebrand is excited to get back on the track this weekend.

“I’m really looking forward to getting back in the No. 4 National Guard car this weekend down at Barber,” Hildebrand said. “The track was super fast at the test we had a few weeks ago, which is what IndyCar racing should be all about.”

Hildebrand had his best non-oval qualifying effort at Barber last year, pushing the team into the Firestone Fast Six and getting the No. 4 National Guard car into the 5th place starting position before eventually finishing 15th in the race after contact in the closing laps. After a successful qualifying effort in 2012 and a successful open test, Hildebrand and the Panther team are hoping to carry some momentum into this weekend’s race.

”The car ran great during the test and we were really quick at Barber last year in qualifying, so hopefully we can keep that momentum up,” JR continued. “I’m pumped to get back down there.”

RACE REWIND: Great Start at Barber Doesn’t Pan Out for Panther in 2012:
After Hildebrand’s best non-oval qualifying effort at the time, he and the No. 4 National Guard Panther team started the race in 5th position. The team made its first pit stop on Lap 19 and Hildebrand returned to the field in ninth position and outpaced Team Penske driver Ryan Briscoe for the rest of the second stint. As the final laps ticked down Hildebrand was in 13th and entering the final turn his car was bumped twice by Briscoe, which allowed two cars to pass and pushed Hildebrand to 15th.
Additional notes on Panther Racing at Barber Motorsports Park:
*In three starts at Barber, Panther drivers have completed 270 of a possible 270 laps.
*Hildebrand’s fifth-place start in 2012 was the first time he had either advanced to the second round of qualifications or the Firestone Fast Six.
*Panther’s best finish at Barber was an 11th-place result with Dan Wheldon in 2010, the team’s first start at the Birmingham racetrack.
*Sunday will mark Hildebrand’s 36th career IndyCar Series start, 34 of which will be behind the wheel of the No. 4 National Guard car. Hildebrand made two starts with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing in 2010. This will be his third start at Barber.

Broadcast Info:
The Indy Grand Prix of Alabama will be held on April 5th and broadcast live on NBC Sports Network at 3:00 pm (ET), with additional coverage provided by the IMS Radio Network, XM/Sirius Channel 211. Practice, qualifying and race coverage is also available on the IndyCar Mobile app from Verizon. - -