National Guard Panther Team Looks to Make Gains on Saturday Before Qualifications

LEEDS, Alabama (April 5, 2013) – Practice for this weekend’s Indy Grand Prix of Alabama kicked-off at Barber Motorsports Park on Friday afternoon, with National Guard Panther Racing driver JR Hildebrand posting the 23rd-quickest lap time during the day’s two practice sessions. Last year at Barber Hildebrand collected his career-best non-oval qualification effort after advancing to the Firestone Fast Six, where he secured the fifth-place starting position. At the time it was Panther’s best start on a non-oval track since 2005.

"The fact we didn’t throw a new set of tires on the National Guard Chevy at the end of the session today obviously has a significant affect on where we were at (on the speed chart),” Hildebrand explained. “Another piece of that is that the track gets better as it cools off here and we were one of the first cars to go out when we did our fastest lap. That all aside, the track is significantly different from when we tested here, and we’re still trying to get everything dialed in. Between myself and Oriol (Servia) we both made some changes that we’ll all end up going to when we roll out in the morning.”

Hildebrand turned a total of 36 laps on the day, with a best lap time of 1:09.7176 seconds, and an average speed of 118.765 mph. The 25-year-old’s best finish on Barber’s 17-turn, 2.38-mile permanent road course was an 11th-place result he earned his rookie year in 2011 in the National Guard car.

Team Chevy driver Helio Castroneves set the quickest lap time of the day in his No. 3 Team Penske machine with Alex Tagliani and rookie Tristan Vautier rounding out the top three on the time sheet.

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.

www.JRHildebrandRacing.com - www.pantherracing.com - www.NationalGuard.com