Sunday, April 19, 2009

Pole Sitter Hildebrand wins 45-lap Long Beach Race.

By staff

LONG BEACH, Calif. - This time, J.R. Hildebrand didn't allow anyone to get a jump on the No. 26 ARPRO car.

Hildebrand, of Sausalito, Calif., won the 45-lap Firestone Indy Lights race on the 1.968-mile, 11-turn Long Beach temporary street circuit by 1.8315 seconds over Richard Philippe. James Hinchcliffe finished third and Jonathan Summerton was fourth. Ana Beatriz advanced two positions to finish fifth in the No. 20 Healthy Choice/Sam Schmidt Motorsports car.

Box score

In the first of two races on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., two weeks earlier, Hildebrand started from the pole but was overtaken on a restart halfway through the race. He finished third. Hildebrand started from the pole at Long Beach in the AFS Racing/Andretti Green Racing-prepared car. He maintained a sizable lead through the early portion of the race and no one could muster a challenge on a Lap 20 restart (one of two after full-course cautions).

"We just had a great car and the ARPRO guys have just done a great job all weekend," said Hildebrand, who posted his second Firestone Indy Lights victory. "We had a great car at St. Petersburg, but we had some mechanicals going on or we could have been just as good there. I have to give all the credit to the boys for picking it up after a rough weekend."

Hildebrand likes his chances at the first oval race of the season - April 26 at the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway. He won there in 2007.

"I think we have the potential to be the fastest on the track everywhere we go," he said. "We had a good run at Kansas last year and picked up some miles in the IndyCar (Series car) a couple weeks ago, so maybe that will give us a leg up on everyone."