14 July 2009
Hildebrand, Saavedra back on top in Lights.
It's a situation benefiting both. Two competitors have the open-wheel experience and guiding words of Michael Andretti and Gary Peterson at their disposal, while AFS Racing/Andretti Green Racing receives their talents in the top development series in North American open-wheel racing.
"Mike Andretti and I spend a lot of time talking to them before and after the races, trying to give them the 'what to do and what not to do' advice when they get in the car," said AFS owner and former competitor Peterson, "They're young."
Indeed so, for JR Hildebrand is 21, and Sebastian Saavedra 19, but they're also 1-2 again in the Firestone Indy Lights standings after nine races, although Hildebrand, who has two victories and six podium finishes overall, leads by 51 points heading to the 25 July race in Edmonton.
"We have great drivers," Peterson continued, "but it's tough having two drivers so competitive on a team. Both of them want to win and both of them want to win the championship."
Saavedra picked up his second victory of the season on the Toronto street course at the weekend, and the 53 points - including three bonuses for winning the pole and leading the most laps - pushed him from fourth to second overall, and helped recover from the 18-point penalty he incurred a week earlier at Watkins Glen International.
Hildebrand, who started fourth, won that race in the #26 ARPRO car but, in Toronto, could only watch as his team-mate overtook him in turn one on lap 18 as he struggled with an ill-handling car over the remaining 32 laps. It was the first time that they had finished 1-2 this season.
"I was just trying to push him as hard as I could, waiting for the mistake, but it never came," Saavedra said of the laps leading up to his pass for the lead, "I realised it was just going to have to be by myself, so I measured as best as I could, trying to not lose any gap from him. Exiting turn eleven, I was already in his tow and, as soon as I saw the braking point, I didn't doubt it. I just went for it."
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