JR Hildebrand breaks bone in Long Beach, not yet cleared to drive

Chris Jones/INDYCAR

By Aaron Bearden, Motorsports Editor

A last-lap crash with Mikhail Aleshin in at Long Beach has left Ed Carpenter Racing (ECR) driver JR Hildebrand with as broken bone in his left hand, a diagnosis that currently has waiting to be cleared to drive.

Hildebrand was battling with Aleshin for the 11th position on the final lap of Sunday’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach when a move to the inside on Turn 1 led to contact between the two drivers. The impact of the collision led the steering wheel on Hildebrand’s No. 21 Chevrolet to thrash about in the cockpit, damaging the Californian’s hand.

INDYCAR put out a statement on Hildebrand’s injury over social media shortly after the race’s conclusion, saying the ECR driver “will be re-evaluated this week.”

The 29-year-old described the incident after the race.

“At the end of the race, we all were bunched back up because of that last yellow,” Hildebrand said. “I was on reds and had a little bit for at least the handful of cars in front of us. On the last lap, I was making a move on Mikhail Aleshin and I could tell he was struggling.

“I was out of push-to-pass so I was trying to make a proper, full-out pass down he front straightaway. He had been starting to move over, not a major blocking maneuver but enough to assert his line. He hit the brake a lot earlier than I was expecting and I ended up running into the back of him. In doing so, it ripped the steering wheel from my hand and I ended up tweaking it.

“At the end of the day, to come home with an 11th place finish isn’t terrible,” Hildebrand continued. “It is a bummer though as we were certainly on our way to finishing in the top 10 and now we are in a bit of a jam going forward. Hopefully I can get back to it here before the next race.”

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