Confirmation finally came today from Dreyer & Reinbold Racing on their second entry for the Indianapolis 500 next month. The team announced that JR Hildebrand will be back behind the wheel, as they head into this year’s race with the same lineup as last year. The only significant change is a very cool one, as Hildebrand will run the No. 48 on his Chevrolet, in a tribute to the late Dan Gurney. Hildebrand will attempt to qualify for his ninth Indianapolis 500 race.
Gurney finished runner-up in the 500 in back-to-back years, the second of which was 50 years ago when he finished behind Mario Andretti in 1969. Last year Hildebrand ran the No. 66 number, which has been give to Fernando Alonso and McLaren. JR is one of the few drivers that will not participate in Wednesday’s open test at IMS, but they will be ready to hit the track for opening day of practice on May 14. The full press release from today is below.
[Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Press Release]
Dreyer & Reinbold Racing today announced its second Indianapolis 500 entry with veteran driver J.R. Hildebrand driving the No. 48 DRR Chevrolet-powered Dallara in the 103rd Indianapolis 500 set for May 26, 2019.
Hildebrand, an eight-time Indy 500 starter, was the 2011 Indy 500 “Rookie of the Year” and has recorded four top-ten finishes at the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” Last year, J.R. drove the DRR Chevrolet from the 27th starting position to eleventh after 200 laps in the May 27 event.
The 31-year-old driver joins Dreyer & Reinbold Racing for a second consecutive year at the world’s biggest auto racing event and will drive the No. 48 car, a longtime racing number campaigned by legendary racer/car builder/team owner Dan Gurney. DRR will also field young Sage Karam in the No. 24 WIX Filters Chevy the month of Many at IMS.
Hildebrand, a California native now residing in Boulder, Colo., was the 2009 Indy Lights champion and also captured racing titles in the USF2000 (2006) and SCCA Formula Russell (2004) series. J.R. made his IndyCar Series debut with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing in 2010 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. He also drove the DRR IndyCar at Sonoma Raceway that year.
“Last year, we had a great relationship with Dennis Reinbold’s DRR team in our initial Indy 500 effort,” said Hildebrand. “I started my IndyCar career with Dennis back in 2010 when he brought me up to the big leagues in IndyCar Racing. We have always had a great rapport over the years. I have always been impressed with the speed in the race of the DRR team.
“I’m thrilled to have Salesforce back on our race car, and also honoring the great Dan Gurney with the No. 48 this year. Dan was one of my racing heroes, by 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.”
Another longtime Indy 500 legacy comes with the Dreyer & Reinbold families at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, dating back to 1927 with DRR team owner Dennis Reinbold’s grandfather, Floyd “Pop” Dreyer, serving as a mechanic in the 1927 Indy 500. Dreyer, a famed motorcycle racer before building and owning racing cars, built a variety of Indy 500 entries, sprint cars and midgets from the 1930s to 1950s.
“I’m very pleased to bring back J.R. to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway again this year,” said Reinbold. “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.”
The Gurney legacy, with many Eagle cars competing at the Indy 500, is well-known at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with race wins and record qualifying performances.
“We are very much looking forward to another exciting Indy 500 in 2019,” said Alex Gurney, Dan Gurney’s son. “The number 48 is special to our family as my dad took that number to second place in both ’68 and ’69 as well as a win for AAR as a team and manufacturer in 1975. This is a great tribute to my dad. JR Hildebrand is a special person as well as a fantastic driver and he seems always to be in contention for the win at Indy. I hope he can put the 48 up front in the big race.”
Hildebrand will begin Indy 500 practice laps in the No. 48 DRR Chevrolet Dallara on Tuesday, May 14, when practice rounds open on the historic two and a half-mile oval. Qualifying for the 103rd running of the Indy 500 is set for Saturday, May 18, and Sunday, May 19. The start for this year’s Indianapolis 500-Mile Race is scheduled for 12:15 p.m. EDT on Sunday, May 26.