Man, JR Hildebrand just can't catch a break, can he?
Less than two weeks after losing the Indianapolis 500 when he crashed on the final turn of the final lap while in the lead, Hildebrand tore the ACL in his left knee on the final hurdle of an obstacle course during a promotional event.
The event, held Thursday at Texas Motor Speedway, site of this weekend's IndyCar event, was billed as a boot camp to dispel the notion that race car drivers aren't athletes. Olympic gold medal sprinter Michael Johnson served as the camp coach.
Three IndyCar drivers — Ryan Briscoe, Will Power and Hildebrand — participated in the camp that was going smoothly until the final hurdle.
Hildebrand's knee broke the top board upon contact, and the 23-year-old Californian stumbled to the ground on a grassy lot outside the Lone Star Tower condominiums.
Hildebrand remained on the ground for several minutes catching his breath, as the outside of his left knee appeared to swell. TMS public relations staffers provided Hildebrand with some cold towels and ice from a nearby cooler to wrap the knee. Hildebrand was able to stand and walk to a nearby SUV, which reportedly transported him to the track's Infield Care Center.
Panther Racing has issued a statement that Hildebrand suffered a knee injury and that he will still compete in Saturday night's Twin 275 races at Texas. The event is a rare full-field doubleheader. Each race will award half points.
"Obviously it's a hassle but I've got good means of dealing with it this weekend and it's not going to be an issue down the road," Hildebrand said. "This kind of stuff happens to lots of athletes, and I'm sure if I was a running back for the Indianapolis Colts I'd be having some problems, but luckily it's not going to have any affect on me driving the race car."
Last year, NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin tore his left ACL playing pickup basketball. Hamlin attempted to hold off on having surgery until the end of the season but opted for surgery in the spring after the pain became too great. Hamlin finished second to Jimmie Johnson for the Sprint Cup championship.
The setback is the second stroke of bad luck for Hildebrand in as many weeks. At Indy, Hildebrand had the lead going into Turn 4 of the final lap, but in an attempt to pass a lapped car crashed into the outside wall, allowing Dan Wheldon to catch up and pass him to win the Indianpolis 500. Hildebrand crossed the finish line second in his battered race car.
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