JR Hildebrand will make a return to the IndyCar Series grid this year, sharing the #98 Barracuda Racing race seat with Luca Filippi for the remainder of the season, the team has announced.
The team’s veteran driver, Alex Tagliani, opted to vacate his seat ahead of the previous round at Mid-Ohio to allow the team to evaluate other drivers as it possibly looks to expand to a two-car operation in 2014.
That gave Filippi, the former GP2 Series racewinner and Honda F1 test driver, an opportunity to make his long-awaited debut, where he finished 16th.
The Italian will drive at the upcoming Baltimore and Houston double-header street races.
Hildebrand – who was sacked from Panther Racing earlier this year after a dreadful start to his campaign – will in turn drive at the other races at Sonoma Raceway and Fontana Speedway. The American has been targeting a return to the grid before the end of the year, in the hopes of impressive prospective employers to give him a full-time gig next year.
“JR is an exciting prospect for us,” Barracuda Racing team owner Bryan Herta said.
“He’s a talented driver and it made sense for him to be able to compete at his ‘home’ races in Sonoma and Fontana.
“We were also very impressed with Luca and happy to give him two more outings. He made a good impression on everyone, and this will allow him the chance to race on American-style street circuits.”
The next race takes place at Sonoma Raceway on the weekend of August 24-25.