BARBER BATTLE: HILDEBRAND QUALIFIES 24TH FOR SUNDAY'S INDY GRAND PRIX OF ALABAMA
National Guard Panther Racing Team Set to Make a Climb Through IndyCar Field Tomorrow
LEEDS, Alabama (April 6, 2013) – National Guard Panther Racing driver JR Hildebrand will start tomorrow’s Indy Grand Prix of Alabama in the 24th position after IndyCar Series qualifications on Saturday. Hildebrand posted a top lap of 120.058 mph, 1:07.8367, which was not quick enough to advance to the second round of qualifications. In his career at Barber, the 25-year-old has finished 11th (2011) and 15th (2012) on the 17-turn, 2.38-mile permanent road course.
"We were quite encouraged with the changes based on how the National Guard Chevy responded this morning in practice, but both Oriol and I struggled to find the same feeling in the car this afternoon in qualifying,” Hildebrand said. “A positive for tomorrow is that is appears as though our tire wear is good, but we will have to work some more as a group to achieve the maximum speed that we are looking for again. The heat is a big factor here, so we need to be ready for that in the race tomorrow.”
Panther’s Qualification History at Barber:
Sunday will mark Panther’s fourth start on the 17-turn, 2.38-mile track at Barber Motorsports Park and its third with Hildebrand. Panther has completed 270 of a possible 270 laps at Barber the past three years with Hildebrand and Dan Wheldon. Hildebrand’s fifth-place qualification effort last year was Panther’s best non-oval start since 2005 and the first time Hildebrand advanced to the Firestone Fast Six in qualifications.
Panther Racing’s Qualification History at Barber:
•2012 – JR Hildebrand, qualified 5th (finished 15th, Running)
•2011 – JR Hildebrand, qualified 15th (finished 13th, Running)
•2010 – Dan Wheldon, qualified 23rd (finished 11th, Running)
“Operation: Hire Our Guard” Program to be Held Sunday at 11:45 am:
Tomorrow at 11:45am Panther will conduct its “Operation: Hire Our Guard” program in the Panther Racing hospitality area at Barber Motorsports Park, which is located at the top of the hill across from the IndyCar Paddock Club. For a full recap of Panther’s employment program from the last race in St. Petersburg, including video, photo galleries and interviews with business leaders and military leadership who attended, read our Interactive Magazine HERE: http://panther.interactmag.com/30/St-Petersburg/
Medal of Honor Recipient Leo Thorsness is scheduled to appear this weekend as a guest speaker during the employment presentation. Thorsness was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty for his actions over North Vietnam on April 19th, 1967. Thorsness, along with several other Medal of Honor Recipients, have been an instrumental part of Panther’s program to fight Veteran unemployment. Last week in St. Petersburg Medal of Honor recipient Gary Littrell was the honorary speaker during the “Operation: Hire Our Guard” program and both men were amongst the 10 Medal of Honor recipients that were guests of Panther during the Indy 500 last May.
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