May 19, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; IndyCar Series driver JR Hildebrand watches during practice for the 2014 Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
J. R. Hildebrand
Upside: The former Indy Lights champion comes with IndyCar experience, most famously in crashing out of the lead in the final corner of his first Indianapolis 500. Hildebrand’s more than that, though, taking Panther equipment to some of its best road and street course results since the 2008 reunification of open-wheel racing. In his only 2014 start, Hildebrand was 10th for Ed Carpenter (now CFH) Racing in the 500.
Intelligent, young, and American-born, Hildebrand could be a marketable driver. He even represented his nation in the now-defunct A1GP series, turning heads with a fourth place on debut.
Questions: With CFH passing on Hildebrand for Luca Filippi, his strongest chance has passed him by. Three seasons with the struggling Panther team may have damaged his value.
Verdict: Hildebrand seems like a great fit for Dale Coyne’s Boy Scouts entry, but his name hasn’t come up there. Coyne declined to hire him for that ride in 2010, too. A part-time program or one-off at Indianapolis may be the best Hildebrand can aim for now.