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IL: Hildebrand all the way in Edmonton

26 July 2009

JR Hildebrand strengthened his grip on top spot in the Firestone Indy Lights championship by turning his fourth pole of the season into win number three by dominating the Grand Prix of Edmonton.

The AFS/Andretti Green Racing driver led from the green flag lap and was never headed in the #26 ARPRO car, eventually coming home over 14 seconds clear of his nearest challenger. The victory adds to similar success at both Long Beach and Watkins Glen and increases Hildebrand's lead in the standings from 51 points to 69.

"We were running our own pace and I think the other guys started to fall off a little bit," the winner surmised, "I was just trying to run the same lap time from start to end and the car came to me a little bit as the tyres went off, so I didn't have to take too many risks to accomplish that.

"We were able to bring home another win at a circuit that keeps you on your toes from top to bottom and front to back. I'm happy for the guys. We had a frustrating weekend at Toronto, but everyone did a great job this weekend."

Rookie Richard Philippe finished second to equal his best result of the season. It was his first podium since switching to Team PBIR, but replicated the second place he achieved with Genoa, ironically behind Hildebrand at Long Beach.

"I'm as happy as I can be with finishing second," the Frenchman admitted, "We've come a long way with the Palm Beach International Raceway car. I need to thank the team because they brought their 'A' game. I've been trying to push them a lot to get to the front and here we are splitting two AGR cars, so we're doing something right."

Hildebrand's AFS/AGR team-mate Sebastian Saavedra came through to third place after making up two positions on his starting spot, claiming the fifth podium of his rookie season after overcoming James Davison and James Hinchcliffe.

"For sure, it wasn't easy," the Colombian commented, "It was a really tough race, a long race and a physical race, but I think we did a nice strategy of saving tyres in the beginning. I just put pressure on the guys in front of me and, every time they made a mistake, I was able to take advantage of that. I'm happy. Being 1-3 for AFS/Andretti Green is what we need for the championship and the rookie championship."

Hinchcliffe made a decent start, but saw his race go downhill from there.

"It was a tough day at the office," the Canadian, still the best of the Sam Schmidt Motorsport drivers, admitted, "We got a decent start, but sort of got hung out to dry on the outside. I thought I would be able to get around Davison, but he got back around, so I settled into fourth. I was following him when my engine started to overheat. I tried to run off-line on the straightaways, but there was so much marbles and dust offline, that I got some marbles on my tyres and locked up going into turn ten and that allowed Saavedra to get by. It's too bad - I think we could have run with Philippe, but it's still a decent result and good for points."

Charlie Kimball completed the top five in the sister PBIR machine, with Wade Cunningham, Andrew Prendeville, Mario Romancini, Daniel Herrington and Davison rounding out the eventual top ten.


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