JR Hildebrand has not yet been cleared to return to driving after breaking a bone in his left hand in a last lap incident with Mikhail Aleshin during the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Sunday.
The Ed Carpenter Racing driver was attempting a passing move on the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver into turn one but struck the back of Aleshin’s car, which ripped the steering wheel from his grip and unfortunately caused damage to his hand.
Hildebrand ended up stopped in the run-off at turn one out of the race but was classified twelfth, which became eleventh when Aleshin was penalised for his part in the incident.
“At the end of the race, we all were bunched back up because of that last yellow,” said Hildebrand. “I was on reds and had a little bit for at least the handful of cars in front of us.
“On the last lap, I was making a move on Mikhail Aleshin and I could tell he was struggling. I was out of push-to-pass so I was trying to make a proper, full-out pass down the front straightaway.
“He had been starting to move over, not a major blocking manoeuvre but enough to assert his line. He hit the brake a lot earlier than I was expecting and I ended up running into the back of him. In doing so, it ripped the steering wheel from my hand and I ended up tweaking it.”
Hildebrand, who had earlier broken his front wing in an incident with Tony Kanaan, was disappointed that he could not break into the top ten in Long Beach, and now is waiting for clearance to drive from IndyCar officials before the next round at Barber Motorsports Park in two weeks time.
“At the end of the day, to come home with an 11th place finish isn’t terrible,” said Hildebrand. “It is a bummer though as we were certainly on our way to finishing in the Top 10 and now we are in a bit of a jam going forward. Hopefully I can get back to it here before the next race.”