Hildebrand out at Panther Racing; Briscoe to drive #4 in Detroit

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On the heels of a disappointing one-car crash in the Indianapolis 500, Panther Racing has terminated the contract of JR Hildebrand.  The team announced the news on its website Thursday afternoon with a statement from team owner John Barnes:

“We’d like to thank JR Hildebrand for his contributions to Panther Racing, and especially the work he put into supporting the National Guard and all of our programs to support its soldiers,” Panther Managing Partner John Barnes said. “JR is a great young man, a class act, and somebody who has been a great representative of our race team and all of our partners since 2011. We certainly wish JR, his family and his representatives all the best in the future.”

Hildebrand burst onto the scene in 2011 nearly winning the Indianapolis 500 in his first attempt.  However, he crashed on the final turn of the final lap allowing Dan Wheldon to grab the Checkered flag.  Hildebrand led laps during seven of his 37 starts for Panther Racing in the IZOD Indycar Series.

Hildebrand talked with Fox 59’s Jeremiah Johnson prior to the 97th Running of the Indianapolis 500.

Hildebrand released a three-part twitter message to his fans Thursday afternoon:

Panther Racing also announced that Ryan Briscoe will drive the #4 National Guard Chevy this weekend for the Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit.  Barnes addressed the move via Panther’s official website:

“We couldn’t be happier to have Ryan Briscoe join Panther Racing this weekend,” Panther Managing Partner John Barnes said. “He’s a championship-caliber driver who’s proven he can win races on any type of track in the IndyCar Series. We have no doubt he can jump right into our program and put the No. 4 National Guard Chevy at the front of the field. In his career he’s gone toe-to-toe with the best drivers in this series and won a lot of races. We’re all very excited that he’s going to become part of our family here at Panther and look forward to getting him on the track this weekend in Detroit.”

Panther Racing has won two Indycar Series Championships.  Briscoe will be the 4th driver to pilot the team’s National Guard-sponsored entry.