INDIANAPOLIS – The long awaited rumor that JR Hildebrand will be joining the Indianapolis 500 entry list has now been confirmed. Hildebrand, 31, will join Dreyer & Reinbold Racing for the second straight year and will pilot the No. 48 Chevrolet in an effort to honor Dan Gurney.
“I’m thrilled to have Salesforce back on our race car, and also honoring the great Dan Gurney with the No. 48 this year,” Hildebrand said in a news release on Monday morning. “Dan was one of my racing heroes and we’re saluting him in this year’s Indy 500 and campaigning his famed No. 48. Dan’s No. 48 won the 1975 Indy 500 with Bobby Unser driving. Now, we’ll celebrate Dan’s great racing achievements with the No. 48 car.”
This will be the California natives ninth try at making the Indy 500 as he’s made the field in all eight of his previous tries. Hildebrand, started 27th and finished 11th in last year’s race with DRR but is most famous for nearly winning the event as a rookie in 2011.
He was leading the race at the end but hit the Turn 4 wall on the final lap and finished second in heart breaking fashion. s
“I’m very pleased to bring back J.R. to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway again this year,” team co-owner Dennis Reinbold said via the same release. “Last year, we expanded to two cars with J.R. and Sage and the combination worked very well. J.R.’s experience at Indy brings our team a lot of background to develop the cars quickly in practice and prepare for qualifying.
“With J.R. and Sage, we have two very talented young drivers who can compete for the win on May 26. Plus, running the No. 48 in honor of Dan Gurney is exciting for me and our team. Dan was one of my heroes as a kid and it will be great to have the No. 48 back at IMS.”
Hildebrand, lost his full time ride with Panther following a last place finish in the 2013 Indy 500. He’d return on a full time basis for one season since (2017) with Ed Carpenter Racing where he finished 15th in the final standings. Other than that, he’s done just one-off efforts during the Month of May.
He’s a really good racer on the 2.5-mile track. Hildebrand, has four top 11 finishes in his last five starts.