There is a chance we will not see local race driver JR Hildebrand in Indycar anytime soon. It seems Hildebrand and his racing partner Panther Racing have parted ways following what the team says three major mistakes since 2011 when he joined up with Panther. Ryan Briscoe has been tapped to drive Panther Racing’s Indycar entry for the Belle Isle race this weekend in Detroit.
In a statement released from Panther Racing, Managing Partner John Barnes said, “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.” Barnes continued saying, “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, and wish all my friends at Panther the absolute best.”
Hildebrand, the 2009 Firestone Indy Lights champion, made 37 starts with Panther Racing. He recorded a high finish of second in the 2011 Indianapolis 500. Unfortunately, Hildebrand’s most remembered event was as he led the 2011 Indy 500 on the last lap about to win, coming out of the last turn his car hit the wall sliding across the finish line in second place. This past Memorial Day Indy 500 Hildebrand spun and made contact with the wall on Lap 4 putting him out of the 500 Mile Race.
Hildebrand made no mention of future plans.