In a brief statement Thursday, Panther Racing announced that the IndyCar team and its driver JR Hildebrand had terminated their contract by "mutual agreement." The contract had been scheduled to run through the end of the year. The team subsequently announced that Ryan Briscoe will take over this car for this weekend's double-header races in Detroit.
Oriol Servia, who had driven the Panther/DRR entry until it was sidelined after Indy for lack of sponsorship, is tipped to take over the car for the remainder of the season. Briscoe has some clashing commitments with his Le Mans/ALMS program for Level 5 Motorsports.
Hildebrand, the 2009 Firestone Indy Lights champion, made a total of 37 starts in the No. 4 National GuardPanther Racing Chevrolet over the course of the last three seasons.
“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.”
"I want to thank Panther Racing for the opportunity to drive the No. 4 National Guard Chevrolet,” Hildebrand added. “It was a privilege to represent our men and women in uniform, along with the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe and the team's veteran employment initiatives. I'm very much looking forward to the next chapter in my IndyCar career, andwish all my friends at Panther the absolute best."
Hildebrand's exit follows his disappointing early exit from the Indianapolis 500, but was only a couple of races removed from a fifth-place finish in Long Beach that equaled his best road course result with the team.