By Christopher DeHarde, IndyCar & Road to Indy Writer
JR Hildebrand was moving through the Verizon IndyCar Series field during Sunday’s Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
The California native had gained the most positions in the field until a caution for Ed Jones’s stalled car on Lap 67 put his strategy in disarray as he was unable to come into the pits for service until the field had packed up behind the pace car.
“We ended up just going a lap long when that yellow came out,” said Hildebrand.
“So we were stuck out on track and I hadn’t made a pit stop yet so if we had just pitted a lap earlier we would’ve been in that top group of 10.
Hildebrand had to stop for fuel under a closed pit, meaning he had to take the restart from the back of the field.
“We were going to run out of gas so we had to pit under a closed pit,” he added.
“That cycled us all the way to the back and when we did make our pit stop under that caution there was some kind of mechanical malfunction so we didn’t get all the fuel in the car so then under green (we) had to come in and pit again without another yellow there at the end.”
The 2009 Indy Lights champion doesn’t believe that his strategy was wrong, but simply that bad luck made it ineffective.
“We’ve been playing strategy that tends to work,” Hildebrand said.
“We’ve been able to go longer than a lot of the guys around us, we just got caught out by yellows coming out like on the exact lap that you need it to not happen. It’s obviously nobody’s fault and I think if we keep doing what we’re doing, that should start working out for us instead of against us here sooner or later.”
Hildebrand’s strategy to move up was a simple one.
“We started on blacks and were able to go long to start with and the car was pretty good,” said Hildebrand.
“We made some changes this morning and found a little something we’ve been struggling (with) this weekend. The car was pretty good just on the long run and we were making a lot of headway by it.
“We were saving fuel and doing it pretty easily. I was telling the guys that it felt like the more fuel we saved, the better we went. We were just kind of cruising around out on our own.”
The next race for Hildebrand to redeem himself will be the next IndyCar race at Pocono on August 20th where he will be rejoined by Ed Carpenter Racing’s eponymous team owner for the ABC Supply 500.