Panther Racing’s J. R. Hildebrand has told reporters that his use of the racing simulation benefitted him for learning and driving at the Phoenix International Raceway. Hildebrand, who drove for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing last year, took part in a driver test at Phoenix last month for Panther Racing. After posting good laptimes, and earning a drive for the team, he pointed to iRacing as his main source of help.

“iRacing definitely made a difference,” said Hildebrand.  “I'd never driven any kind of car on the Phoenix oval.  But running PIR on iRacing definitely helped with my visual cues, like the turn-in for Turn One and also the sense of just how fast you get from Turn Four into Turn One.  It really helped me to get up to speed quickly.”

According to David Cripps (race engineer for Panther), the team knew the first morning of the two-day test that Hildebrand was their guy.

“Right from his out lap you'd have thought he had driven at Phoenix before,” Cripps said later.  “It was very impressive.  He got with the program very quickly . . . Out of the box, he definitely looked like he had been at that track before.”