JR Hildebrand signs with Panther Racing for 2011
By Simon Strang
JR Hildebrand has replaced former IndyCar champion Dan Wheldon at Panther Racing for 2011 in a multi-year deal, the team confirmed on Tuesday.
The 22-year-old Californian, who won the 2009 Indy Lights title and made his debut in this year's IndyCar Series standing in for the injured Mike Conway at Dreyer & Reinbold for the Mid-Ohio and Sonoma rounds, has been linked to the seat for some time.
"I couldn't be more excited to be at Panther Racing," said Hildebrand. "This is my first full-time IndyCar ride and the Panther # 4 car is one of the best seats in the IZOD IndyCar Series, so to be able to start my career with a team with this kind of pedigree is just huge.
"I already feel with the small amount of experiences I've had here, and just being around the shop that it's going to be a great fit for all of us."
Panther Racing CEO and Managing Partner John Barnes added: "JR is an extremely impressive young man, and he's going to be a great fit for the National Guard and Panther Racing.
"We feel like JR is going to be a tremendous asset to the IZOD IndyCar Series, and what really set him apart is his ambition and his intelligence - this is a kid who was a National Merit Scholar, and accepted to M.I.T. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). We tested him at Phoenix last week and brought along my friend Al Unser Jr to help us with the evaluation, and all of us knew by lunchtime of the first day that we'd found the next driver of the # 4 car.
"We know we all have a lot of hard work ahead of us, but our expectations are very high for the 2011 season."
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