Hildebrand goes flag-to-flag in Lights race
AFS Racing/Andretti Green Racing driver J.R. Hildebrand started from the pole and led every lap en route to posting his second career victory and first win of 2009 in Sunday's Firestone Indy Lights Grand Prix of Long Beach. Richard Philippe and James Hinchcliffe were 2nd and 3rd.
We just had a great car and the ARPRO guys have just done a great job all weekend," said Hildebrand. "We had a great car at St. Petersburg, but we had some mechanicals going on or we could have been just as good there. I have to give all the credit to the boys for picking it up after a rough weekend. I think we have the potential to be the fastest on the track everywhere we go. We had a good run at Kansas last year and picked up some miles in the IndyCar (Series car) a couple weeks ago, so maybe that will give us a leg up on everyone. Obviously, I'm looking for a good weekend there next week."
Hildebrand's performance on Sunday paved the way for a five-spot jump in the series standings from eighth to third and leaves him just seven points shy of the top spot. Saavedra also gained ground Sunday moving up one spot to sixth, 36 points behind leader Junior Strous.
Sunday's Grand Prix of Long Beach will air Monday, April 20, at 4 p.m. on Versus.
The 2009 Firestone Indy Lights schedule resumes next Sunday with the Kansas Lottery 100 at Kansas Speedway where Hildebrand is the defending race winner.
J.R. HILDEBRAND (No. 26 ARPRO, first): “We just had a great car, and the ARPRO guys have just done a great job all weekend. We had a great car at St. Petersburg, but we had some mechanicals going on or we could have been just as good there. I have to give all the credit to the boys for picking it up after a rough weekend.” (About conditions): “It was getting hot out there. I feel like some of the other guys were dropping off a little quicker than I was. I think our fitness trainer will be getting a big hug when we get home. We had a good car, and that made my job easy.” (About next race): “I think we have the potential to be the fastest on the track everywhere we go. We had a good run at Kansas last year and picked up some miles in the IndyCar (Series car) a couple weeks ago, so maybe that will give us a leg up on everyone. Obviously, I’m looking for a good weekend there next year.”
RICHARD PHILIPPE (No. 36 Genoa, second): “We’re not P1, but we were equal with him. He had good restarts, and I couldn’t catch him. At the end, I kind of faded off a little bit and James (Hinchcliffe) was catching up a little bit. But P2 is points in the bag, and we can move forward.”
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 7 Hinchtown/Sam Schmidt Motorsports, third): “It was a solid effort. I don’t think any of us had anything for J.R. (Hildebrand) today. He was pretty quick and I feel like at the end he could just pretty much control the pace and do what he wanted. For me, good start, second off the start. And then the second or third lap, J.R. clobbered the wall coming out of the hairpin with his inside rear. And I thought for sure he was going to spin so I backed out of it to avoid the wreck. And the guy somehow managed to capture it up and keep going, so I had already lifted and lost my momentum, which allowed Richard (Philippe) to get by, which is too bad because I think for sure we could have been second today.”
JONATHAN SUMMERTON (No. 9 Andersen/Allied Interior Products/Lafarge, fourth): “We had a car that was very consistent. I wouldn't say we had the quickest car, but we were consistent. I think consistency should win the championship, so hopefully that stays true. I'm happy with fourth place, but I would have liked to have been on the podium.”
ANA BEATRIZ (No. 20 Healthy Choice/Sam Schmidt Motorsports, fifth): “It's good to finish top five again. It's important for the points. We struggled a little bit here at the beginning of the weekend. The Healthy Choice/Sam Schmidt Motorsports team made sure we could improve our qualifying. For the race, we made sure we picked up some positions, kept safe and finished in the top five.”
JUNIOR STROUS (No. 18 Shell V-Power Knaus HTP, points leader): “The car was good, but on the first lap, I started seeing errors on my dash. Then in Turn 8, the car started to bog down. I looked back and saw flames and parked it immediately. I have to give credit to the marshals, because they did a great job getting to the car and helped limit the damage to the car. It sucks for sure. We had a bad weekend, but will back next week for sure, hopefully with more luck.”
||JR Hildebrand (26)
||Richard Philippe (36)
||James Hinchcliffe (7)
||Jonathan Summerton (9)
||Ana Beatriz (20)
||Ali Jackson (59)
||James Davison (21)
||Sebastian Saavedra (27)
||Gustavo Yacaman (44)
||Daniel Herrington (28)
||Pablo Donoso (33)
||Jesse Mason (49)
||Jay Howard (37)
||Pippa Mann (16)
||Martin Plowman (15)
||Andrew Prendeville (2)
||Stefan Wilson (19)
||Jonathan Bomarito (63)
||Charlie Kimball (35)
||Wade Cunningham (11)
||Sergey Mokshantsev (3)
||Sean Guthrie (4)
||Junior Strous (18)
||Mario Romancini (5)
||Rodrigo Barbosa (55)
Winner's average speed: 84.308 mph
Time of race: 1:03:01.5734
Margin of victory: 1.8315 seconds
Cautions: 2 caution flags for 6 laps
Lead changes: None
Lap leaders: Hildebrand 1-45.
Point standings: Strous 107, Summerton 104, Hildebrand 100,
Hinchcliffe 98, Herrington 76, Saavedra 71, Philippe 71,
Howard 71, Beatriz 69, Davison 63.