Hildebrand's IndyCar ride under review (3rd Update) UPDATE #3 Ryan Briscoe has been named driver of the National Guard entry this weekend at Detroit but SPEED.com reports that veteran Oriol Servia is expected to be in the car for the remainder of the season, which is what AR1.com originally rumored.
Servia, who could not be reached for comment, has been Hildebrand's teammate in the partnership of Dreyer & Reinbold and Panther the past two years so it was assumed he was leading candidate since DRR has shut down its IndyCar operation for this season. But sources tell SPEED.com that a legality issue in dissolving the partnership needs to be sorted out and that's why the 38-year-old native of Spain won't be in No. 4 this weekend.
05/30/13 This rumor is upgraded to 'fact' with this announcement.
05/30/13 The driver of Panther Racing's No. 4 National Guard-sponsored Chevrolet figures to be revealed Thursday when IndyCar Series teams arrive at Belle Isle for the Detroit Grand Prix.
J.R. Hildebrand has been that driver since the beginning of the 2011 season, but he has had a difficult start to this season. He ran over Will Power's car under caution in the season-opening race in St. Petersburg, Fla., and crashed by himself on lap four of last weekend's Indianapolis 500.
The latter miscue was particularly troublesome given all the military dignitaries at Indianapolis Motor Speedway to watch the team race. It was one of the lowest moments for the Panther team that joined the Indy Racing League in 1998.
Hildebrand has finished 15th or lower in four of the five races this season, and he was last at Indy.
If Hildebrand is replaced, Oriol Servia figures to be the choice at least for this weekend's doubleheader. Servia has been with Panther DRR for the past calendar year as the core of his Dreyer & Reinbold team moved to Chevrolet and then joined Panther for a technical alliance.
Panther DRR has discontinued its racing business as it regroups financially. Therefore, Servia is available to take Hildebrand's place.
Team officials and Hildebrand have declined to comment. AutoWeek05/29/13
J.R. Hildebrand’s job with Panther Racing seems, at a minimum, under review.
|JR Hildebrand (L) could join Oriol Servia (R) with no IndyCar ride. Will Servia get Hildebrand's ride if he is sacked? Or does the National Guard insist on an American driver?|
Panther owner John Barnes declined to discuss “manpower” of the National Guard-sponsored team, but he called Hildebrand’s fourth-lap crash in Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 “disappointing.”
“Nothing hurt me more than seeing the reaction of the troops to that crash,” Barnes said today. “We want to represent them in the best possible way.”
Hildebrand could not be reached for comment. He has been with Panther since 2011 when he nearly won the 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He was leading in the final corner of the race when he crashed, giving the win to Dan Wheldon of Bryan Herta Autosport. Indy Star