Immense disappointment as Hildebrand loses victory
30 May 2011 – In what was one of the Indianapolis 500’s most dramatic finishes ever, J.R. Hildebrand lost victory by hitting the wall at the final corner on Sunday. Having started the 12th, the highest-placed rookie was fighting a battle against low fuel loads as Dan Wheldon eventually stole his second victory at the speedway.
“I knew we were really tight on fuel coming to the end and the spotters were in my ear saying, ‘The guys are coming and they’re coming hard’,” explained Panther Racing’s Hildebrand, who was able to limp across the finish line in second place on three wheels. “We had to conserve a little fuel and the tyres were coming to the end of their stint. I was hanging a little on to get the thing around.
“I made a judgment call catching up on the 83 and I thought, ‘I don’t really want to slow down behind him and pull out on the straightaway and I’ve been able to make this move on the outside before,’ and so I went to the high side and, because it was at the end of the stint, I got up in the marbles and that was it.
“I'm okay, but this is not really about me at this point. You always show up to try to win. My disappointment is for the team and for National Guard as a sponsor. It's one of the those things, as a driver, you never really know what you're going to expect.
“We knew we had a fast race car. We knew, if the race came to us, we may be in a position to sort of finish top three, top five."
- The dramatic finish can be viewed at GPUpdate TV