National Guard Panther Team Tests One Day Panther Racing completed a successful test at Sebring International Raceway with IZOD IndyCar Series rookie JR Hildebrand on Thursday before a rain storm Friday morning forced the team to cut the test short by a day. The team completed a total of 75 laps on Sebring's 1.65-mile course in the No. 4 National Guard car, and will utilize its test mileage allotted for Friday during another test session scheduled in February.
This was Hildebrand's first test as a member of Panther Racing, after an impressive audition at Phoenix International Raceway in December helped earn the 23-year-old Californian the seat in the National Guard entry. The 2009 Firestone Indy Lights champion made his IndyCar Series debut with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing last season when he made two starts filling in for an injured Mike Conway. He had tested at Sebring on two previous occasions; with Andretti Autosport in 2009 -- his first time driving an IndyCar Series machine -- and again in 2010 with Dale Coyne Racing.
Panther will test again next month at Firebird International Raceway prior to the IZOD IndyCar Series upcoming open test at Barber Motorsports Park. The team finished ninth in the overall point standings in 2010 with a total of 10 Top Ten and four Top Five finishes with former driver Dan Wheldon. The IZOD IndyCar Series opens on the Streets of St. Petersburg on Sunday, March 27th.
Hildebrand is traveling directly to Shreveport, Louisiana following the test to be a part of the graduation ceremony for the 100,000th National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Cadet to graduate from the program. The Youth ChalleNGe program is a preventative at-risk youth program that targets participants who are unemployed, drug-free high school dropouts, 16-to-18 years of age. Panther has supported the program since the National Guard became the team's primary sponsor in 2008.
JR Hildebrand, No. 4 National Guard Dallara Honda:
"We had a really good test in the National Guard car yesterday. One of the main things we came here to do is start to establish what our baseline setup is going to be this season. David Cripps and the guys on our engineering staff are getting used to me and I'm getting used to everybody at Panther. We really wanted to get some of the basics figured out. We spent quite a bit of time sorting out our brakes and getting a feel for a variety of different things that helped us make a lot of progress by honing in on those details that will pay off for us big time during the upcoming season." Panther Racing
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