National Guard Panther Racing Driver Eliminated in First Round of Qualifications Saturday

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (March 23, 2013) – National Guard Panther Racing driver JR Hildebrand qualified in the 24th position for tomorrow’s Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, which will kick-off the 2013 IndyCar Series season. Hildebrand will be making his third career starts on the streets of St. Pete, with a best career finish of 11th place in 2011.

"Obviously it’s really close,” Hildebrand explained. “And we don’t want to be this far back and we needed to be faster. But even a few tenths around here makes a huge difference, so we’re going to continue to learn what we can from Oriol and do the work we need to make the National Guard Chevy tomorrow. If it rains tomorrow that will add a massive amount of variability to the race. It’s not as if everything that happens today gets thrown out the window if it rains, but in a sense a lot of where we’re at with setup and your tire strategy won’t make as big a difference. I certainly enjoy the rain and that’s something we could be dealing with tomorrow.”

Hildebrand posted a quick lap of 103.983 mph, 1:02.3179 seconds during the first round of qualifications. Fellow Team Chevy driver Will Power captured the pole position and will be joined on the front row by AJ Foyt Racing driver Takuma Sato.

Panther Qualification History in St. Petersburg:
Sunday will mark Panther’s ninth season of competition on the Streets of St. Petersburg and the third season that Hildebrand will pilot the No. 4 National Guard entry. The team’s best starting position came in 2005 with Tomas Enge (5th) and its best finish was in Vitor Meira’s first start with the team in 2006 when the Brazilian finished in fifth. Listed below is Panther’s qualification history on the popular street course:
Listed below is Panther’s Qualification History at St. Petersburg:
•2012 – JR Hildebrand, qualified 18th (finished 19th, Fuel Pressure)
•2011 – JR Hildebrand, qualified 24th (finished 11th, Running)
•2010 – Dan Wheldon, qualified 15th (finished 20th, Accident)
•2009 – Dan Wheldon, qualified 11th (finished 14th, Accident)
•2008 – Vitor Meira, qualified 17th (finished 19th, Accident)
•2007 – Vitor Meira, qualified 9th (finished 16th, Running)
•2007 – Kosuke Matsuura, qualified 10th (finished 17th, Running)
•2006 – Vitor Meria, qualified 12th (finished 5th, Running)
•2005 – Tomas Scheckter, qualified 8th (finished 17th, Accident)
•2005 – Tomas Enge, qualified 5th (finished 16th, Accident)

Broadcast Info:
The IZOD IndyCar Series Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network at 12:00 pm (ET), with additional coverage provided by the IMS Radio Network, XM Channel 94 and Sirius Channel 211. Practice, qualifying and race coverage is also available on the IndyCar Mobile app from Verizon.

www.JRHildebrandRacing.com - www.pantherracing.com - www.NationalGuard.com