THE HOTTEST INDY 500 IN HISTORY MAKES FOR A WILD RACE;
HILDEBRAND PLACES 11TH; KARAM RUNS 6TH BEFORE LATE RACE INCIDENT
Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Cars Battle in the Top Ten in Sunday’s Indy 500
Speedway, IN (May 27, 2018) — Dreyer & Reinbold Racing drivers J.R. Hildebrand and Sage Karam competed in the hottest race (93 degrees) in the 102-year history of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race and drove into the top-ten in tough track conditions Sunday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Hildebrand, making his eight Indy 500 start in the No. 66 Salesforce/DRR Chevrolet, started 27th in the 33-driver field and finished 11th after the 200-lap “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” in track surface temperatures approaching 130 degrees.
In the middle of the race, Hildebrand ran as high as fifth and used strong pit stops by his Salesforce/DRR crew to utilize different strategy from Karam’s No. 24 WIX Filters/DRR Chevrolet team. Many late race caution periods due to the slick track hurt J.R. changes for a top-ten position.
Will Power won the race and seven different teams placed in top eleven finishes including Dreyer& Reinbold Racing.
“It was a very long race,” said Hildebrand. “We tried very hard to gain some track position in the pits and every time, it sort of ended up to be a little bit of a wash where the yellows fell. They guys did a great job all race long. No mistakes from anyone on the strategy side or pit lane side. Every time we took a gamble, it didn’t really seem to hurt us. Always good to get 500 miles under your belt here (the track) and to finish the race. To see so many guys today have a really tough day as far as handling very poorly really early in the stint. I was fortunate to be right around a few of them and watching them happen like that could have been us if we were a little worse or a little less careful. Happy to bring the thing back in one piece. Would have liked to have snuck it into the top 10 there at the end but kudos to the team. They did a great job with the Salesforce car all month long and what turned out to be real tough conditions.”
“You always appreciate being able to put 200 laps in here. You always are learning a bunch of stuff. You learn things about driving the car. You learn what you need in the car. You learn about conditions and what other guys have learned about the car. We won’t forget that stuff when we come back next year.”
Karam, starting 24th Sunday, drove a superb race to move to seventh by lap 143 and dodged several incidents during the event including mishaps by Danica Patrick, Sebastian Bourdais and Helio Castroneves. By lap 150, Karam’s WIX Filters machine looked to be position for a strong run to the checkered flag in sixth. However, on lap 154, Sage’s car sudden slid around and hit the turn four outside wall, ending his excellent drive.
“I really don’t know what happened because the race car was stable in the rear end all day,” said Karam. “Then all of a sudden, the car just snapped around without any notice. It is extremely puzzling. The car was pushing in turn four all day and it felt like I cut a tire or something. We had a pretty good car all day and then that happened. I’m upset because I felt like I might have cut a tire. We had a car to race into the top-five today. I feel badly because the DRR crew worked so hard to prepare a good machine this month. Then this happens. I love Indy so much and now my race ends like this. I know I want to come back here next year and race hard again.”
Team owner Dennis Reinbold felt both of his Indy 500 drivers put in strong performances in tough conditions Sunday.
“We had a good plan, similar to the winner’s today,” said Reinbold. “With Sage, we ran steady and solid to go from 24th to sixth by lap 150. He drove a great race in the WIX Filters Chevy. Then I think he might have cut a tire in the debris from the previous crash in turn four. He had no warning and the car instantly went sideways. Our plan and strategy were good ones with Sage. We were in position to challenge for a top spot. It is unfortunate to have that incident after a strong run today.
“For J.R., he did a good job coming from 27th to 11th. Obviously, we aren’t happy with 11th here, but he had some great restarts and drove hard all day. It was great to have J.R. and Salesforce join our DRR team this year. I want to thank them for the month of May here.”