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Conway and his teammates struggled mightily all month at Indy, and Conway was so slow, he didn’t even make the 33-car starting grid. Many wondered whether Conway’s performance was impacted by the crash. He now says it did.

“It was different coming back after the crash and I had to get rid of some of the cobwebs,” said Conway, who now drives for A.J. Foyt Racing. “The first time I went through turn three, I thought `This is where I nearly killed myself.’”

Indianapolis was just the start of a topsy-turvy season for Hildebrand.

Two weeks after the crash that left him second at Indy, he tore the ACL in his left knee during a fitness promotion at Texas.

The next week, at Milwaukee, Hildebrand crashed again in what looked like a virtual replay of Indy.

Then came three straight solid finishes — fourth, eighth and 11th — before he closed the season with only one top-10 finish in the last six races. The reward: Finishing second again in the series rookie of the year standings.

The 24-year-old Hildebrand is only getting started.

“I told him `There are guys that race here (Indy) for 10 years and they don’t finish second and you finished second in your rookie year,’” Wilson said. “There are things you learn from it and things you can put down and say it just wasn’t meant to be. But he’ll get another chance, I’m sure.”

Things seem to be lining up for Hildebrand this month.

After having a fuel pump problem in the season-opener, Hildebrand finished 15th at Alabama, fifth in Long Beach and seventh in Brazil. He’s still with Panther Racing, which has a record four straight runner-up finishes at Indy, and is using one of the strong Chevrolet engines. Only rookie Josef Newgarden went faster than Hildebrand. Newgarden came in at 220.250.

But Hildebrand is tired of all those close calls and has come back to Indy to finish the job he couldn’t in 2011.

“It’s just sort of business as usual right now,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of years to come back here and get things done. You know I’m glad it didn’t happen the lap before that because then I wouldn’t have finished second, either.”