National Guard Team Slated for Third Start on Historic California Street Course
LONG BEACH, California – (April 16, 2011) – National Guard Panther Racing driver JR Hildebrand will start 27th tomorrow in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach following IZOD IndyCar Series qualifications this afternoon on the 1.968-mile track. Panther has collected a Top Five and two Top Ten finishes in its two previous starts at Long Beach and hopes to replicate its effort from three weeks ago in St. Petersburg when Hildebrand started in the back but was quickly able to move up to within the Top Ten contenders.
Hildebrandcurrently ranks 13th in the IZOD IndyCar Series point standings and leads Ganassi Racing driver Charlie Kimball in the Rookie of the Year chase by a total of four points. In his two IndyCar starts with Panther Hildebrand has finished 11th (St. Petersburg) and 13th (Barber) and will be making his fifth career start tomorrow.
Team Penske driver Will Power captured the pole position with Andretti Autosportdriver Ryan Hunter-Reay securing a spot on the outside of the front row. Power won the IZOD IndyCar Series event last week in Barber and Hunter-Reay is the defending winner of the Long Beach Grand Prix.
Panther collected a Top Five finish in Long Beach in 2009 with Dan Wheldon, who started 14th that year, and a ninth-place result last year – after starting 10th – in their previous starts on the southern California track.
The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will be broadcast live on VERSUS next Sunday at 3:30 pm with additional coverage provided by the IMS Radio Network, XM Channel 145 and Sirius Channel 121.
JR Hildebrand, No. 4 National Guard Dallara Honda:
“We’re just going to keep working to move forward and gain something valuable from the rest of the weekend. We’re not happy with our performance in qualifying, but we’ve got to turn it into something positive and make the most of the race tomorrow. It’s also important the team, and myself as a big part of that, learn something for down the road and later this season. This isn’t the last street course race we’re going to this year and we’ve got to make sure we take positives from our experiences this weekend.”