J.R. Hildebrand Wins Corning 100
James Davison and Felipe Guimaraes Claim Second and Third Respectively
By: WGI Staff on 7/4/2009
(From left) James Davison, J.R. Hildebrand, and Felipe Guimaraes stand on the podium for the Corning 100.
J.R. Hildebrand (#26 ARPRO Andretti Green Racing) won the July 4th Firestone Indy Lights Series race at Watkins Glen International by 0.5499 sec. over pole sitter James Davison (#21 People*s Liberation/Vision Racing).
The happy winner said, “We had a tough qualifying session and I knew we had the car.” Hildebrand continued, “We decided to pull a little downforce off the car and put in a taller gear and the top speed really helped us here.”
As the green flag flew for the Corning 100, Davison held the lead over fellow front row starter Sebastian Saavedra. J.R. Hildebrand slipped past Hinchcliffe to take 3rd place away from the Toronto driver.
On lap 7, James Hinchcliffe, who had started third, spun his #7 Hinchtown/Sam Schmidt Motorsports machine into the tire barrier in the down hill Turn 6. This accident brought out the caution for two laps.
Davison was able to hold the lead on the restart, but J.R. Hildebrand was able to slip by rookie Sebastian Saavedra to take over second place. Hildebrand then closed on leader Davison and grabbed the lead from the pole sitter on lap 14 entering the Inner Loop.
The second caution flew on lap 16 when #5 Mario Romancini (Revita/Win Brazil/Allied/Anderson Racing) parked his car in turn 9 at the exit of “The Boot.”
The leading drivers held station on the restart and third placed Sebastian Saavedra hounded Davidson until the caution flew again on lap 28 for a spin by Wade Cunningham. The 2007 race winner spun on the entrance to Turn 11, completing a single loop before nosing lightly into the tire barrier. This set up a one lap shoot out to the checkered flag.
On the restart, Felipe Guimaraes made a strong move up the inside of Sebastian Saavedra to claim third spot and a place on the podium. At the rear, Rodrigo Barbosa spun without incident. Saavedra then lost 4th place to Charlie Kimball, when the Columbian went wide at Turn 6. He tried to hold onto the place through Turn 7, even bumping Kimball on the following straight. Kimball held his inside line going into Turn 8, relegating Saavedra to 5th. Officials decided that Saavedra’s actions on the last lap constituted blocking and penalized him 30 seconds, pushing him back to the 18th finishing position.
Second placed Davison said, “I just put my head down and today I drove a solid race and it’s something I can improve on.” He was a little disappointed with the downforce level of his car, saying “I was a sitting duck. Even in the slip stream, he (Hildebrand) was still pulling away.”
Rookie Guimaraes was happy with his third placed finish. “This was my first time at the track and it couldn’t be better,” said the Brazilian. “He made a mistake in the last corner and that’s how I got him in first corner.”
Fourth finishing Kimball said, “That shows why you never give up because I was in 5th or 6th for about 29 ½ laps.”