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Apr 18, 2013 - 03:06 PM
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2013 Long Beach: Panther IndyCar Race Preview
Posted by: newsla on Apr 18, 2013 - 03:03 PM
IndyCar Weekend Team Reports
2013 Long Beach: Panther IndyCar Race Preview

The National Guard Panther Racing team and driver JR Hildebrand are looking for a strong result in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach after finishing in the Top Five at the historic street race in two of its previous four starts. With a field that may be one of the most competitive ever seen in the IndyCar Series, Hildebrand and Panther are hoping to repeat their spectacular drive at lastyear’s Grand Prix of Long Breach where Hildebrand charged through the field from 20th to finish in fifth place.


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Additional news and notes are posted below:

RACE REWIND: 2012 Results at Grand Prix of Long Beach:

After starting in 20th position Hildebrand put in a stellar drive, finishing 5th after the team used a two-stop strategy to catapult him through the field. Hildebrand qualified 16th for the Grand Prix of Long Beach with a time of 1:10.3794 and a top speed of 100.666mph, but all Chevy-powered cars took a ten-place grid-penalty for anunscheduled engine change, pushing Hildebrand back to the 20th starting position. After first pitting under the second caution period and again from second place on Lap 56, Hildebrand had to conserve fuel for his final stint, climbing as high as fourth place before being passed by Hunter-Reay and Kanaan, and finishing in the Top Five.

Additional notes on Panther Racing at Long Beach:
• Panther Racing has finished in the Top Five two times since 2009 (Hildebrand finished 5th in 2012; Wheldon was fifth in 2009) and combined with Hildebrand’s ninth-place finish in 2011, Panther has finished in the Top Ten in three of its four starts in Long Beach.
• Panther Racing had completed every lap possible at Long Beach since 2009 (340 of a possible 340 laps)
• Hildebrand initially finished 6th in the 2012 race, but Ryan Hunter-Reay was assessed a 10-second penalty for blocking on the final lap, allowing Hildebrand to move into the Top Five.
• Both Panther’s Top Ten finishes came after drivers qualified well outside the Top Ten; Wheldon started 14th in 2009, Hildebrand started 20th in 2012 after a 10-spot grid penalty for an unapproved engine change.
• The team’s best qualification effort came in 2010, when Dan Wheldon started in the 10th position. He finished ninth in the race.

Medal of Honor Recipients Drew Dix, Jay Vargas to Appear at Barber:
Medal of Honor recipients Drew Dix and Jay Vargas are scheduled to appear this weekend as special guests of Panther Racing’s Operation: Hire Our Guard program on Sunday. As guests of Panther, Dix and Vargas will speak to local business leaders about the unemployment issues facing National Guard soldiers and the importance and benefits of hiring Veterans.

Medal of Honor recipient Drew Dix was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty on January 31st and February 1st, 1968 while serving in the Chau Doc Province in the Republic of Vietnam. After two heavily armed Viet Cong battalions attacked the Province city capital of Chau Phu, Staff Sergeant Dix voluntarily organized and led a rescue force into the city after learning of trapped civilians. Dix assembled a 20-man force, and under intense enemy fire, cleared the Viet Cong out of buildings within the city. Dix’s personal heroic actions resulted in 14 confirmed Viet Cong killed in action, the capture of 20 prisoners, 15 weapons, and the rescue of 14 United States and free world civilians.

Medal of Honor recipient Jay Vargas was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty between April 30thand May 2nd, 1968 at Dai Do in the Republic of Vietnam. Though Captain Vargas suffered wounds he incurred while relocating his unit under heavy enemy fire, Vargas combined Company G with two other companies and lead his men in an attack on the fortified village of Dai Do. Vargas maneuvered his marines across 700 meters of open rice paddy while under fire and obtained a foothold on the enemy perimeter, but elements of his companywere pinned down by intense fire. Vargas lead his reserve platoon to aid the trapped men and destroyed a number of enemy bunkers before again being wounded by grenade fragments. Refusing medical attention, Vargas reorganized his unit into a strong defense perimeter and held the position. The following morning themarines launched an assault through Dai Do on the village of Dihn To, resulting in hand to hand combat where Captain Vargas was injured for a third time during the three day battle. Vargas disregarded his wounds after learning his battalion commander sustained serious wounds, and crossed a fire swept area to carry his commander to a covered position after which Vargas resumed supervising his men.


JR Hildebrand, No. 4 National Guard Chevrolet:

"I’m excited to get back to Long Beach; we had a good race there last year in the National Guard Chevy. A lot of the things we learned in St. Pete to have such a good car on Sunday compared toearlier in that weekend will transfer when we go over there. I feel like we’ve got a lot of things that we want to try that will be really good. It’s a place that I enjoying racing, and I always have fun driving the car there, so we’ll put the first two races behind us and try to get some points and move forward from there.”

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