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IndyCar Driver Review: JR Hildebrand

Dec 4, 2013, 9:45 AM EDT

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With the IndyCar season in the books and a limited amount of news to come since the season finale at Fontana, my MotorSportsTalk colleague Chris Estrada and are taking a look back at the 2013 season just past. Chris and I each ranked our top 10 drivers and some of the biggest stories; now we take a look back at the field driver-by-driver.

P25 was Panther’s former driver who rebounded briefly with Barracuda Racing, JR Hildebrand…

2013 SEASON PREVIEW

JR Hildebrand

  • Teams: Panther Racing, Barracuda Racing
  • 2012: 11th Place, Best Finish 5th, Best Start 4th
  • 2013: 25th Place (7 Starts), Best Finish 5th, Best Start 10th, 1 Top-5, 1 Top-10, 4 Laps Led, 16.3 Avg. Start, 16.6 Avg. Finish

DiZinno says: At least Alex Tagliani lasted 13 races this year before he and Herta went their separate ways; Hildebrand lasted only five with before his unscheduled appointment with Indy’s Turn 1 wall cost him his seat at Panther Racing. JR had been solid if unspectacular in two and a half seasons, and an engineering change to add Tino Belli would have eventually paid dividends; sadly, we never got to see that bear fruit. But Hildebrand’s stock rose as neither Ryan Briscoe nor Oriol Servia was able to do better, neither beat JR’s best result of fifth, and Hildebrand performed well enough in his two California cameos replacing, incidentally, Tagliani. A second chance at another team would be welcomed for the American driver.

Estrada says: Hildebrand started the 2013 season with a bizarre crash at St. Petersburg and following the Indy 500, it looked like it would end with one as well when he lost his ride with Panther Racing after hitting the wall on Lap 3. But as luck would have it, the California native got to suit up in his home state for Barracuda Racing at Sonoma and Fontana. Hildebrand looked sharp in those two outings, and was even threatening to score an upset win late at Fontana until a mechanical problem knocked him out with less than 20 laps to go. He did himself a favor with that effort going into the off-season, but it remains to be seen if the former Indy Lights champion will make a return in 2014.

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