JR Hildebrand was the only driver to be able to stay with the Team Penske drivers during Saturday’s race at the Phoenix International Raceway and was rewarded with a third place finish for Ed Carpenter Racing.
Still racing with the broken hand that caused him to miss the previous round of the season at Barber Motorsports Park, the American drove a strong race all night long under the lights, and finished right on the tail of second placed Will Power.
It was Hildebrand’s first podium since the Indy 500 in 2011, but he was delighted to show such strong pace in his first ever race at Phoenix.
“The car was just awesome all day,” said Hildebrand. “It was a little tricky on those first starts and restarts. I couldn’t quite get the timing right and the other guys were running a little less downforce than we were. I was having a hard time fighting everyone off when we were jammed together that close.
“Towards the end of the race, the car was just awesome. I really felt like I had something for Will (Power) there. If we were in a little more traffic for a little longer, I think we could have gotten him.
“That’s where we were at our best at this race, just running in a whole pack of cars. A huge thanks to the Fuzzy’s Vodka guys and I’m psyched to be able to come back with a good weekend.”