Why do athletes choke? R.J. Hildebrand, a 23-year-old rookie driver was poised to win the 2011 Indy 500 this past week. On the final lap, tragedy struck. As Hildebrand made the final turn, comfortably in the lead, he lost control of his car briefly, slammed into the wall, and was passed by Dan Wheldon. This shocking turn of events startled viewers and analysts.