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Panther Racing parts company with JR Hildebrand

Panther parts company with HildebrandPanther Racing and JR Hildebrand have parted company with immediate effect, the IndyCar team announced on Thursday.

Hildebrand, the Indy Lights champion in 2009, made 37 starts for the team during the past three seasons, finishing second after a last-corner crash while leading in the 2011 Indianapolis 500.

The 25-year-old Californian crashed out of this year's race on lap four last Sunday.

Hildebrand is currently 19th in the IndyCar standings with a fifth-place finish at Long Beach as his best result.

Panther said the decision to part ways was mutual.

"We'd like to thank JR Hildebrand for his contributions to Panther Racing, and especially the work he put into supporting the National Guard and all of our programs to support its soldiers," Panther managing partner John Barnes said.

"JR is a great young man, a class act, and somebody who has been a great representative of our race team and all of our partners since 2011. We certainly wish JR, his family and his representatives all the best in the future."

Hildebrand added: "I want to thank Panther Racing for the opportunity to drive the No. 4 National Guard Chevrolet. It was a privilege to represent our men and women in uniform, along with the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe and the team's veteran employment initiatives.

"I'm very much looking forward to the next chapter in my IndyCar career, and wish all my friends at Panther the absolute best."

Panther said it plans to announce Hildebrand's replacement for this weekend's race at Detroit later today.

Oriol Servia, left without a drive after Indianapolis following Dreyer & Reinbold Racing's decision to withdraw from the series, has been linked with the drive.

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