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IndyCar Driver of the Year 2011: 10th

You voted JR Hildebrand into 10th place in Crash.net's IndyCar Driver of the Year poll!
Top 10 IndyCar Driver of the Year 2011:
10. JR Hildebrand

Birthplace: Sausalito, Calif. USA
Team: Panther Racing
2011 starts: 17
Poles: 0
Wins: 0
Top 5: 2
Top 10: 5
Championship points: 296
Championship position: 14th

Our rundown of the Top 10 IndyCar Drivers of 2011 as decided by the votes of Crash.net readers starts with a bang with the driver who so very nearly won the 2011 Indianapolis 500 race - only to spectacularly lose it on the very last corner.

It's one of the iconic moments of the entire IndyCar season: JR Hildebrand running well out in front, no one close to him and only one bit of slow lapped traffic (Charlie Kimball) to navigate around. Hildebrand played safe and gave Kimball a lot of room ... and in doing so, drifted too high up the track into turn 4 and out onto the marbles. After that, it was a one-way trip into the wall. Despite the shock of the moment, Hildebrand still had the presence of mind to keep his foot on the throttle and keep the wreck moving over the finish line, but by then he'd been overtaken by Dan Wheldon and had to settle for the runners-up spot.

Given what we now know of how the season ended, you could almost believe that it was the hand of fate intervening to give Wheldon his second Indy 500 victory. But what a crushing blow for JR, the sort of cruel twist that can easily overshadow an entire career if you're not careful, and he did well to recover himself and carry on after such heartbreak.

But even so, the rest of Hildebrand's season didn't exactly go to plan: a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his left knee sustained during a media appearance for corporate sponsor shortly after Indianapolis plagued him for the rest of the season until he could get it seen to by surgery. And he would end up losing out to James Hinchcliffe by just 6pts for the title of Rookie of the Year after he himself was one of those to be hospitalised following the dreadful events at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the final race of the season in October.

Still, it's been an impressive début year for the Californian - and no wonder that his team have exercised their two-year option to make sure he stays with them through to 2013. There's every chance that over that time he could prove to be one of the new stars of the future for IndyCar, and it should be fascinating to see how he grows in ability and confidence.



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Panther Racing driver JR Hildebrand reflects. [Picture credit: IndyCar Media]
JR Hildebrand`s wrecked Panther Racing car slides across the finish line of the 2011 Indianapolis 500 in second place. [Picture credit: LAT Photo USA for IndyCar Media]
Indy 500 runner-up JR Hildebrand passes Paul Tracy during practice and qualifying for the Firestone Twin 275s at Texas Motor Speedway - June 2011. [Picture credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media]
JR Hildebrand prepares the National Guard car for its qualifying run at Iowa Speedway. [Photo credit: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media]
JR Hildebrand [Picture credit: IndyCar media]
Mikhail Aleshin waits on pitlane prior to practice at Long Beach (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Carlos Munoz waits on pit lane in Long Beach (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
The crew of Mikhail Aleshin go to work in the pits (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Will Power and Carlos Munoz flank winner Mike Conway during their victory lap (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Carlos Huertas (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Jack Hawksworth enters the hairpin during practice at Long Beach (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Carlos Huertas waits on pitlane prior to the start (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon rolls out of pitlane during the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Carlos Munoz with a champagne surprise (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway celebrating his victory (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Carlos Munoz, Mike Conway and Will Power celebrate on the podium after the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Carlos Munoz, Mike Conway and Will Power celebrate on the podium after the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway celebrates victory in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)

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Andrew - Unregistered

December 12, 2011 7:42 PM

Patience, John! All in good time - Crash is rolling out these results two per day, so the 1st and 2nd place should be unveiled Friday. Sure it's all a bit of a tease, but at least the drivers get their "moment" instead of getting lost in one big splurge.



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