Sonoma, CA – JR Hildebrand and the No. 98 Barracuda Racing car crossed the finish line in 16th place after an action-packed GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma on Sunday afternoon.
Hildebrand was 18th on the starting grid and immediately gained two positions on the first lap. A series of full-course cautions allowed the 25-year-old American driver to advance or recede several positions, at one time running as high as 11th.
On lap 21, Hildebrand was spun by contact in turn seven with Tony Kanaan, which stalled the engine. The safety crew was able to get the car restarted before the pack made its way around so Barracuda Racing stayed on the lead lap, but JR fell back to 21st.
Fighting back again from adversity, Hildebrand once again moved up just outside the top ten late in the race. On lap 68, a restart brought contact from Graham Rahal, which forced the car back to 21st again while nursing the damaged car. By the end, Hildebrand advanced five more positions in the chaos of the final laps to finish P16.
“It was just a messy day out there,” said Hildebrand. “There were a lot of yellows and the Barracuda Racing car was one of them when we got turned around early in the race. We ended up staying on the lead lap but went all the way to the back of the pack.
“With that many yellows, it ends up being kind of a lottery where you actually end up on restarts because the risk reward factor is quite high. We got a couple of really good restarts where we picked up some spots, and then a couple that were lousy where we lost a few spots. At the end, we were the only car on blacks so that hurt us, and I got run into a couple of times, which bent the car out of whack.
“I thought we had a good day going at about the mid-point of the race. We certainly had the top ten in sight, so it’s frustrating to come home where we did, but it’s been a really enjoyable weekend working with the Barracuda Racing crew and I’m looking forward to Fontana.”
Next weekend, the IZOD IndyCar Series heads across the country to the East coast for the Grand Prix of Baltimore. Italian driver Luca Filippi will return to the cockpit of the Barracuda Racing car for the 75-lap competition on the streets of downtown Baltimore. The race will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network on Sunday, September 1 at 2 p.m. ET.