Bryan Herta Autosport, which is also known as Barracuda Racing for sponsorship purposes, will be splitting the driving duties of the their #98 Honda, but they won’t include veteran Canadian driver Alex Tagliani. Californian J.R. Hildebrand, who himself had lost a ride earlier this year, will share the cockpit with Italian Luca Filippi for the final five events of the 2013 season.
Tagliani had been with Herta for the past two seasons but the team’s performance has been poor for most of the year. They replaced Tagliani at the last race (Mid-Ohio) with Filippi, who started last but finished 16th and on the lead lap. Filippi is signed to drive at Baltimore on Labor Day weekend and then the October 5th and 6th double-header on the streets of Houston. Hildebrand will be driving the car in his home state twice, first at Sonoma on August 25th and then the finale at Fontana on the 19th of October. By the way, sponsor Barracuda, like Hildebrand, is based in the Bay Area.
The old, the new and the newer
The 39 year old Tagliani is one of the series’ oldest competitors and between ChampCar and IndyCar, Tag has started 200 American open wheel races in his career which goes back to 2000 when he drove for Gerry Forsythe in CART (forerunner to ChampCar). Tagliani isn’t totally out of racing though as he will be driving sports cars in Grand Am.
The 25 year old Hildebrand was a rising star in IndyCar and almost pulled off an amazing win for Panther Racing at the 2011 Indy 500 but the rookie crashed on the final turn while leading the race, ending up second (source: Yahoo! Sports). After finishing 11th in the points last year for Panther, he began this season with a crash at St. Petersburg, did well at the third race at Long Beach with a top five but a crash at this year’s Indy 500 and a last place finish – once again in turn four – was it for J.R. as he was let go. With no offers, Hildebrand was looking to fill his time with Formula D (drifting) but now has a new chance in IndyCar.
Filippi, who is 28, has been eyed by several teams as a potential driver for the last few years but until Mid-Ohio, Filippi had never started an American open wheel race. He has had significant seat time in GP2, which is the feeder series for Formula One. Filippi’s best GP2 year was in 2011 with a second place overall. This newer driver to the series may be one to watch.
Herta has not announced any further details as far as the 2014 IndyCar season goes.