INDIANAPOLIS — J.R. Hildebrand, the reigning Firestone Indy Lights champion, will make his IZOD IndyCar Series debut for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course Aug. 8.
Hildebrand will make two starts for Dreyer & Reinbold behind the wheel of the No. 24 Dallara Honda. He will race at Mid-Ohio and again the following week at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif.
“I’m really excited to be making my debut,” said Hildebrand. “I’m excited to be here with Dreyer & Reinbold. They’ve shown a lot of pace all year. Justin (Wilson) has had a good year. A few tough breaks. But I’m hopeful to take advantage of that myself.”
Team co-owner Dennis Reinbold said the idea of putting Hildebrand in the car has been kicked around for several months.
“We’ve been talking to him (Hildebrand) off and on for the last couple of months,” said Reinbold. “Finally got to the point where we were ready to put this together, go out and run.”
Hildebrand will be replacing injured driver Mike Conway, who has been out of action since a crash in the Indianapolis 500 in May. He suffered a broken leg and a compression fracture in one of his thoracic vertebrae as a result of the crash.
Robbie Buhl, Reinbold’s partner in Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, said that Conway could conceivably return to competition at Infineon if doctors give him the OK to race.
If he is healthy enough to race, Conway will be put in a third Dreyer & Reinbold entry instead of pulling Hildebrand from the No. 24. A number of drivers, including Graham Rahal, Paul Tracy and Tomas Scheckter, have shared the No. 24 since Conway was injured.
“If Mike Conway is far enough along in his rehab, which he is aggressively taking with his leg, he’s shooting to be back in a race car for Infineon,” said Buhl. “If that is the case, we will have a car available for him as well.”
Hildebrand was just happy for the opportunity to race.
“For me, I just see it as being all around a really good opportunity,” Hildebrand said. “Being able to work with Justin I think will be great. I’m looking forward to having him as a teammate. Hopefully over the two race weekends that I’ll be in the car, the test days, being able to get to know him a little bit better and get to the point that we can work together a little bit.”