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Hildebrand re-signs with Panther

Panther have signed up JR Hildebrand for a further two years, putting him at the wheel of the #4 National Guard entry through to the end of the 2013 season.
JR Hildebrand has re-signed for a further two year deal with Panther Racing in the IZOD IndyCar Series and will stay with the team through to the end of 2013.

Hildebrand famously lost the chance to win the centennial Indianapolis 500 in May when he crashed going through the final corner, and ultimately lost out on gthe rookie of the year title to James Hinchcliffe, but nonetheless had a strong début season in the series.

"We're happy that we're able to keep JR in the #4 car for the next two years," said Panther Racing's managing partner and CEO John Barnes. "We signed him last year with every intention that he would be in the #4 car for the foreseeable future and he proved both inside and outside the race car that he was a perfect fit for this team and what we represent."

Hildebrand was the 2009 Firestone Indy Lights champion, and was originally signed by Panther last December after a two-day driver evaluation test at Phoenix International Raceway. Originally his contract was for one year with a two-year further option, which the team have now picked up.

"I'm super stoked that I'm going to be back at Panther for the next two years," said Hildebrand. "Everybody at Panther is excited about getting started on next year and especially looking forward to getting back to the Indianapolis 500 so we can avenge our battle scar."

Talking about that infamous end to the Indy 500, his team boss said that JR's response to that devastating last-second loss had been a test of Hildebrand's character - and that he had proved himself beyond question to the team in how he'd coped.

"The true test of any athlete is how they handle adversity, and I couldn't be more impressed with how he handled himself during the course of this season," said Barnes. "We've all got our work cut out for us for next season, and we're very pleased that JR is going to be a part of that."

Hildebrand did struggle for results somewhat toward the end of the season. He needed surgery after the season finished to repair a torn arterial cruciate ligament (ACL) in his left knee that he suffered at a media event at Texas Motor Speedway shortly after the Indy 500, broke a bone in his hand at Baltimore and was then hospitalised following the disastrous multi-car accident at Las Vegas with a bruised sternum and a concussion.

"It was a crazy year for us," the 23-year-old Californian agreed. "But we had some really strong runs and I enjoyed being a part of this team."

Hildebrand is scheduled to test the 2012 Dallara 'DW12' chassis for Chevrolet in early December.



Related Pictures

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JR Hildebrand (Panther Racing) wrecks on the last turn of the 2011 Indianapolis 500 while running in the lead. Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Sunday, May 29 2011. [Picture credit: Jim Haines for IndyCar Media]
JR Hildebrand`s wrecked Panther Racing car slides across the finish line of the 2011 Indianapolis 500 in second place. [Picture credit: LAT Photo USA for IndyCar Media]
JR Hildebrand [Picture credit: IndyCar media]
JR Hildebrand prepares the National Guard car for its qualifying run at Iowa Speedway. [Photo credit: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media]
Carlos Huertas (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Jack Hawksworth enters the hairpin during practice at Long Beach (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway poses for pictures with the team from Ed Carpenter Racing after victory in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway celebrates victory in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay leads Sebastien Bourdais during the early stages of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay leads James Hinchcliffe during the early stages of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway (centre), driver of the #20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka / Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory with champagne Sunday, April 13, 2014 after winning the IndyCar Grand Prix of Long Beach in Long Beach, California. Will Power (right), driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, finished second. (Photo Credit: Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Mike Conway, driver of the #20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka / Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory Sunday, April 13, 2014 during the IndyCar Grand Prix of Long Beach in Long Beach, California. With the victory, Conway moves into second place in the driver point standings. (Photo Credit: Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Mike Conway, driver of the #20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka / Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory Sunday, April 13, 2014 during the IndyCar Grand Prix of Long Beach in Long Beach, California. With the victory, Conway moves into second place in the driver point standings. (Photo Credit: Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Mike Conway, driver of the #20 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka / Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, raises his arm as he crosses the finish line Sunday, April 13, 2014 to win the IndyCar Grand Prix of Long Beach in Long Beach, California. With the victory, Conway moves into second place in the driver point standings. (Photo Credit: Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Mike Conway enters the fountain turn complex during practice at Long Beach (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway in the fountain turn during practice at Long Beach (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway in action (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway on course during qualifications at Long Beach (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)

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