Hildebrand Kicks Off Practice for Sunday's Grand Prix of Long Beach

Story posted - Apr 20 2013 12:22 AM

Hildebrand Kicks Off Practice for Sunday's Grand Prix of Long Beach
National Guard Driver Finishes 10th in First Practice, 19th Overall After Crash-Filled Final Practice

LONG BEACH, Calif. (April 19, 2013) – National Guard Panther Racing driver JR Hildebrand finished 10th in the first practice session at Long Beach Friday, and was on pace for a similar finish in the second practice but several on-track incidents prevented the 25-year-old from completing a quick lap. Hildebrand concluded the day 19th on the overall IndyCar speed chart, but the Panther team was confident of its speed as the first day of practice for Sunday's Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Hildebrand recorded a total of 29 laps combined during both sessions and posted a top lap of 100.636 mph, 1:10.4001 seconds.

SSG Elizabeth Cowie Named Panther's Long Beach Hometown Hero:
Panther Racing has named SSG Elizabeth Cowie as its honorary Hometown Hero for the Grand Prix of Long Beach weekend. Panther began its Hometown Hero program in 2008 to help highlight an extraordinary Soldier from each respective state's National Guard. Each hero participates in the IndyCar Series driver autograph session during the race weekend and sits next to Hildebrand while signing a specialty-made hero card. The hero also takes an IndyCar Experience two-seater ride, is honored during an awards presentation in the team's hospitality unit prior to the race and is also recognized on the pre-race stage in front of the crowd prior to the start of the race.

Additional notes on SSG Cowie are posted below:

SSG Cowie entered the Army Reserve at the age of 17
Deployed in support of Operation Desert Storm
Moved to California after returning from deployment and joined the California Army National Guard
Assisted with the mobilization, training and preparation of units in the 746 CSSB during the onset of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan
Began Operation Gratitude with Carolyn Blashek in 2003, making care packages from her home. Operation Gratitude is now one of the most successful programs in the country, resulting in the distribution of over 940,000 care packages for deployed soldiers
Volunteered to deploy in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2006, but was diagnosed with an early stage of breast cancer during the medical screening process and was cleared for deployment after undergoing two surgeries and radiation therapy
SSG Cowie joined the 1113th Transportation Company in Kuwait where she was instrumental in maintaining logistical support

JR Hildebrand, No. 4 National Guard Chevrolet:
"We're hoping that we come here knowing what we did in St. Pete will translate to Long Beach, because we felt like what we had done at the end of that weekend was going to help us here. Legitimately in the Top Ten in that session, and we felt like we had the speed to do that in the second practice, but that was a bit of a mess. Looking forward to tomorrow in the National Guard Chevy, and hopefully we can continue down the path that we're going down."

Broadcast Info:
The Grand Prix of Long Beach will be broadcast live on Sunday, April 21st on NBC Sports Network at 4:00 pm (ET), with additional coverage provided by the IMS Radio Network, XM/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

If you were a TSO subscriber - you could comment on this article and tell us what YOU think.