INDYCAR SEASON KICKS OFF DURING FRIDAY PRACTICE IN ST. PETE, ELECTRICAL PROBLEM LIMITS HILDEBRAND IN SECOND PRACTICE
National Guard Panther Team Hampered by Electrical Gremlin in Second Practice, Finishes 23rd
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (March 22, 2013) – The IndyCar Series season was officially kicked-off on Friday afternoon on the downtown streets of St. Petersburg, where 25 car-and-driver combinations took to the 14-turn, 1.8-mile temporary street circuit. National Guard Panther Racing driver JR Hildebrand was slowed by an electrical gremlin for a good portion of the second practice, but still managed to put down a total of 29 laps during the day’s two practice sessions.
"We were unfortunately down for a lot of practice two today with an electrical issue,” Hildebrand said. “But thankfully Oriol was rather quick, so we’ll look to learn from them to be ready for tomorrow.”
The team posted a top lap speed of 103.011 mph, 1:02.9057 seconds, which was the 23rd-quickest time of the day.
Panther DRR driver Oriol Servia posted the fourth-quickest time on the day, which bodes well for the National Guard team in its collaboration with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing and its veteran driver. With the collaboration between the two teams realigned this year, the electrical issues that hampered the No. 4 team today won’t be as big of a setback, especially given Servia’s speed.
Hildebrand is slated to make his third career start in St. Petersburg this Sunday, and last year the 25-year-old American led the race and was about to secure a Top Five finish before a fuel pressure issue sent him back to a 19th-place finishing position. Hildebrand finished 11th in St. Pete in his first start here in 2011.
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