National Guard Panther Racing Team Ready to Repeat Top Five Performance of 2011 at Bullring
[media-credit name=”iowacorn.org” align=”alignright” width=”168″][/media-credit]NEWTON, Iowa – (June 22, 2012) – There was only one pass in the first heat race of the night at Iowa Speedway, but thankfully it was National Guard Panther Racing driver JR Hildebrand making a move around EJ Viso to secure the third position in the race. Hildebrand, who had one of the best races of his young career on Iowa’s bullring here last year, will start tomorrow’s 250-lap race in the 12th position. Grid penalties for engine changes for Graham Rahal and Tony Kanaan moved Hildebrand up from his qualified position of 14th to 12th on thegrid tomorrow.
Dario Franchitti captured his second straight pole position after winning the third and final heat race of the night, andwill be joined on the front row by Chevrolet driver Helio Castroneves.
Panther’s History at Iowa Speedway:
Panther has competed at Iowa Speedway every year since the IndyCar Series’ inaugural trip in 2007, and the team has led in three of its five trips to the 0.875-mile oval track. Panther has captured two Top Five finishes and three Top Ten finishes at Iowa and Hildebrand secured the team’s best qualification effort with a fourth-place start in 2011.
Additional notes on Panther at Iowa:
· Hildebrand collected a fourth-place finish in 2011, his best career finish outside of his memorable runner-up finish in the Indianapolis 500.
· Hildebrand’s fourth-place qualification effort at Iowa in 2011 remains his IndyCar Series career-best starting position. He posted a two-lap average of 179.569 mph.
· Panther has led in three of its five trips to Iowa with drivers Vitor Meira (2007), Dan Wheldon (2009) and Hildebrand (2011) with Meira leading the most laps (71) in any one race.
· The team has two Top Five (Hildebrand, 2011; Wheldon, 2009) and three Top Ten finishes since 2007.
· This year will mark the first time the field will be set by three separate 30-lap qualification heat races, which will take place Friday evening.
Race Broadcast Details:
The Iowa Corn Indy 250 will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network at 10 pm (EST), with additional coverage provided by the IMS Radio Network, XM Channel 94 and Sirius Channel 212. Practice, qualifying and race coverage is also available on the new IndyCar Mobile app from Verizon.
JR Hildebrand, No. 4 National Guard Chevrolet:
“It’s unfortunate in these heat races that you can’t jump into the tail end of the next one, but we feel like the National Guard Chevy is really good and if that race had gone another five or ten laps we may have been able to get Newgarden. Once it cools off tomorrow the cars will be making a little bit more downforce and we’ll get some closer racing than what you saw tonight. The other thing you saw is that was only the first 30 laps on a set of tires, and once you get further they’ll start to wear a bit more and that will lead to some passing. I could have made another pass in our race if we’d had another five or ten more laps. We were making some lines work around the track that we learned a little bit from last year after we had a good run here. So we’ll see what we got out here tomorrow.