JR Hildebrand and his engineer David Cripps (above, left to right) made their return to Phoenix International Raceway Feb. 21 and 22 for the first time since Hildebrand's initial test for the Panther Racing team in 2010. That first test, on the older PIR oval before its reconfiguration, helped lead to Hildebrand getting the ride with Panther for the 2011 season.
Hildebrand couldn't hide how much he loved the track, tweeting afterward, "We SERIOUSLY need to race here." Cripps meanwhile, had this to offer: “I would race here tomorrow, absolutely. They did a wonderful job with the race surface – it's one of the most consistent and smoothest racetracks I've been to in a long time. I originally thought they were going to change the architecture of the track, but they've made it now where IndyCar would put on an even better show, and it's still Phoenix. This is a first-class facility and with the population growth around the racetrack, I think we could have held a race here last weekend.”
In the meantime, the team strapped a GoPro camera to its DW12-Chevrolet for Hildebrand's test, and produced these results: