Day in the sun for Hildebrand

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI

, Last Updated: 8:30 AM ET

J.R. Hildebrand won it in a walk.

A pretty fast walk, granted, but a walk just the same.

The Firestone Indy Lights points leader went wire to wire yesterday, starting from the post and spent the rest of his afternoon padding his lead all the way to an easy checkered flag.

"I knew our car was quite good," said Hildebrand, who had a nine-second lead by the midway mark of the 50-lap race. "From there, I kind of tried to run the same lap time over and over again. The car really just came to me. I was able to run my own race."

INCREASED LEAD

By the 38th lap he was 11 seconds up on second place Richard Filipe, by the 47th he was 17 seconds in front.

"It was pretty uneventful. I kind of just saw him drive away, really," said Philippe, who knew early he was protecting second rather than chasing down first. "Today J.R. was just stronger. The fastest car and driver combination won today."

The only hope for the field would have been a mid-race yellow, which would have wiped out the 17-second lead and bunched them up for a sprint to the finish, but it never came.

"The fact it was green all race played into our favour," said Hildebrand, a 21-year-old three-time winner this season. "From there it was just a great weekend for the guys. Everybody did everything right this weekend."

The biggest challenge when you're 17 seconds up on second place is staying sharp and staying out of trouble. Hildebrand, who passed 10 back markers in the win, did both.

PLAYED IT SMART

"As the lapped cars were coming along I pushed to get as many of them in between me and the guys behind me in case the yellow came out, but I tried to be sensible about it. I've never had a big problem with focusing on what we're doing -- just maintain the lap time and pay attention to corner after corner rather than thinking too far ahead or about something you just did."

The only drama in the race came about five seconds in, when the grid approached the bottle-neck first turn. It was there that Philippe thought about putting a move on Hildebrand, but backed off when he saw there wasn't enough room.

"I tried to put some pressure on J.R., but at the same time I didn't want to end my race and his race on the first corner," said Philippe.

"So I think we did a sensible job there and made it through."

Toronto's James Hinchcliffe finished fourth.


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