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Hildebrand takes Lights win in Long Beach.


JR Hildebrand led all 45 laps of the Firestone Indy Lights Grand Prix of Long Beach, converting pole position into his first win of the 2009 campaign and vaulting himself back into title contention after mixed results in St Petersburg.

The AFS/AGR driver was able to open out a comfortable gap over the rest of the 25-car field in the first half of the event, despite clipping the wall, and still had the measure of his rivals when a mid-race restart bunched the pack. He eventually came home with nearly two seconds in hand over second-placed Richard Philippe, claiming his second Lights victory as the series prepares to return to the scene of his first, in Kansas last year.

“We just had a great car, and the ARPRO guys have just done a great job all weekend," Hildebrand reported, "We had a great car at St Petersburg, but we had some mechanicals going on, and I have to give all the credit to the boys for picking it up after a rough weekend.

“I think we have the potential to be the fastest on the track everywhere we go. We had a good run at Kansas last year and picked up some miles in the [Andretti Green] IndyCar a couple weeks ago, so maybe that will give us a leg up on everyone.”

Philippe posted his best Lights Series result in second, converting fourth on the grid into a podium finish for the Genoa team after admitting to not having enough to stay with Hildebrand at the restarts.

“We're not P1, but we were equal with him - he just had good restarts, and I couldn't catch him," he said, "At the end, I kind of faded off a little bit and James [Hinchcliffe] was catching up a little bit, but P2 is points in the bag, and we can move forward.”

Hinchcliffe returned to the podium for the second race in a row, but was disappointed not to have converted a front row start into something stronger than third at the chequer.

“It was a solid effort, as I don't think any of us had anything for JR today," the Crash.net columnist admitted, "He was pretty quick and I feel, at the end, he could pretty much control the pace and do what he wanted. I got a good start but, then, on the second or third lap, JR clobbered the wall with his inside rear coming out of the hairpin. I thought he was going to spin, so I backed out of it to avoid the wreck, but the guy somehow managed to catch it and keep going. I had already lifted and lost my momentum, which allowed Richard to get by. I think, for sure, we could have been second today.”

Jonathan Summerton continued his consistent start to the season with a third fourth place finish in as many races.

“We had a car that was very consistent - I wouldn't say we had the quickest car, but we were consistent," he emphasised, "I'm happy with fourth place, but I would have liked to have been on the podium. However, I think consistency should win the championship, so hopefully that stays true.”



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Jr Hildebrand celebrates Long Beach Indy Lights pole   [pic credit: IRL/Jones]
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)
Mike Conway, Tony Kanaan and Will Power pose for a selfie 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)
Tony Kanaan and Will Power pose for a selfie 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 celebrates with the Ed Carpenter Racing team after the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway celebrates after the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)

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