IndyCar's Hildebrand injures knee in promotion
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP)
The bad luck just keeps following IndyCar driver JR Hildebrand.
Less than two weeks after a crash in the final turn cost him an Indianapolis 500 victory, the rookie injured his left knee during a fitness promotion for this weekend's Twin 275s in Texas.
Panther Racing, Hildebrand's team, confirmed the injury in a news release sent out Thursday night but said it would not provide details about the injury. Multiple reports have said Hildebrand tore the ACL. The team still expects Hildebrand to drive this weekend.
''Obviously it's a hassle, but I've got good means of dealing with it this weekend and it's not going to be an issue down the road,'' Hildebrand said. ''This kind of stuff happens to lots of athletes, and I'm sure if I was a running back for the Indianapolis Colts I'd be having some problems, but luckily it's not going to have any affect on me driving the racecar.''
If a replacement is needed, Panther Racing said it has Buddy Rice, the 2004 Indy 500 winner, on standby in Texas.
Hildebrand was injured Wednesday while attempting to clear a hurdle on an obstacle course. IndyCar driver Ryan Briscoe also participated in the event, which was overseen by four-time Olympic gold medalist Michael Johnson.
It's yet another setback for Hildebrand, who became a household name for all the wrong reasons May 29.
Hildebrand took the lead late in the race and seemed destined to become the first American winner since Sam Hornish Jr. in 2006 as he sped around Indy's 2.5-mile oval for the final time. Just when it looked like he won it, Hildebrand tried to pass a slower car on the high side as the two cars wen through the fourth turn.
The miscue sent Hildebrand's No. 4 car spinning into the wall and skidding down the front straightaway as Dan Wheldon passed him just yards from the finish line to win the race. Hildebrand's smashed car crossed the finish line in second.
Hildebrand has been hearing about the mistake ever since - in part because the series hasn't held a race since Indy.
Parents have written to Hildebrand, commending him for the example he set by dealing with disappointment. Most of the other IndyCar drivers also praised the way he handled the heartbreaking loss.
In Texas, Hildebrand hoped to start a new chapter in his racing career. But the knee injury won't help matters, even if Hildebrand is trying to keep this race business as usual.
''I think the Texas race is going to be fun,'' he said. ''Panther brings a good package here every year and I think the two-race format is going to be pretty cool. I'm not sure what to make of it honestly in terms of how aggressive everybody will be going into it. This is the perfect type of track to have a more random grid like what you'll see in the second race and that will make for better racing because here you can pass and use the high line to get around people.''