The #4 National Guard Panther Racing car will be back in the hands of Ryan Briscoe this weekend in the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma, just a little over a month after he fractured his right wrist in an accident during a race at Toronto.
"I'm obviously very happy to be back with the team and in the National Guard car," said the 31-year-old Australian, who took part in last week's full day test at Sonoma wearing a carbon fibre wrist brace.
"My wrist held up pretty good during the test, although the brace was a bit of a nuisance," he admitted. "But we made good progress during the test and worked through our program really well. I was pleased with our pace and definitely looking forward to coming back next week to find more speed."
Briscoe is particularly keen to return to action at Sonoma, as he is the defending race winner having won here from the front row in 2012 while competing full time with the Penske team, as well as finishing in the top four in every race here since 2008.
"He looked great at the test we had last week and you don't have to do much research to see how well he's done historically at Sonoma Raceway," said Panther Racing owner John Barnes.
"We knew Ryan was a tough guy and would bounce back from his wrist surgery quickly," Barnes added. "Thankfully we've got even more time to work on the National Guard car in practice and we're all really excited to have him back in the seat this weekend."
After Briscoe's accident on the first day of the Toronto double-header weekend, he was replaced at short notice in the car for the second race the following day by Indy Lights star Carlos Munoz. Spain's Oriol Servia then took over for the next race weekend at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course at the start of August.
Briscoe was also forced to miss two events in the American Le Mans Series where he competes in the LMP2 class alongside Scott Tucker in the #551 Level 5 Motorsports HPD ARX-03b entry. Mike Conway deputised for Briscoe at Mosport while Simon Pagenaud sat in for him at Road America and succeeded in winning the class honours.
Briscoe lost his full-time IZOD IndyCar Series ride at the end of 2012 when the Penske team slimmed down to just two full-time entries with Will Power and Helio Castroneves. However he made a return to active duty in May in the Indianapolis 500 with Chip Ganassi Racing and finished in 12th place, and was then tapped to replace JR Hildebrand at Panther Racing for the Detroit road course double-header event at the start of June.