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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 d├ębut 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]
Sebastien Bourdais with his son after winning Race 1 of the Honda Indy Toronto. (Photo by: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media)
The red flag is waived halting attempts to start Race 1 of the Honda Indy Toronto on Saturday. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway and Team Owner Ed Carpenter celebrate victory in Race 2 of the Honda Indy Toronto (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Sebastien Bourdais gets a congratulatory hug from team co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven after winning Race 1 of the Honda Indy Toronto (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Chevrolet sweeps the podium with winner Mike Conway (center), driver of the #20 Fuzzy`s Ultra Premium Vodka / Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrating his victory Sunday, July 20, 2014 during the second of two IndyCar Series races through the streets of Exhibition Place, in Toronto, Canada. Tony Kanaan (left), driver of the #10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet celebrates his second-place finish. Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet celebrates his third-place finish. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Mike Conway, driver of the #20 Fuzzy`s Ultra Premium Vodka / Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory Sunday, July 20, 2014 during the second of two IndyCar Series races through the streets of Exhibition Place, in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Mike Conway, driver of the #20 Fuzzy`s Ultra Premium Vodka / Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, takes the chequered flag while racing to victory Sunday, July 20, 2014 during the second of two IndyCar Series races through the streets of Exhibition Place, in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Mike Conway, driver of the #20 Fuzzy`s Ultra Premium Vodka / Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to victory Sunday, July 20, 2014 during the second of two IndyCar Series races through the streets of Exhibition Place, in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Mike Conway on his way to victory in the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway jumps for joy after the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway with the winner`s flag after the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway, Tony Kanaan and Will Power celebrate on the podium after the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway receives the winner`s trophy after the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (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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