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2004 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice to contest final two races of 2011

2004 Indianapolis 500 champion Buddy Rice will contest the final two rounds of the 2011 IndyCar season at Kentucky and Las Vegas

Rice ended a two-year IndyCar hiatus when he joined Panther Racing for the 100th running of the Indy 500 this year, and he will join up with the team again for the final two events alongside rookie points leader JR Hildebrand.

Las Vegas will also mark Rice's 100th IndyCar start. In the 98 races he has thus far contested, he has racked up three wins, five poles and eight podiums.

"I'm just excited to be back at Panther Racing and thankful to run some more races together," Rice said. "Like I said before we ran Indianapolis, I've had a lot of chances to get back into IndyCar but at Panther we know we've got a package together that can win races.

"I know Panther was really strong at Kentucky last year (Ed Carpenter earning the pole position and finishing second) and they've got one of the best oval programs in the series, so I know JR and I can work together to get these cars towards the front."

Team CEO John Barnes said he was confident the team had a potential race-winning package, and hailed the impact Rice had when he raced for the squad at this year's Indy 500.

"We owe Buddy a ton of credit for the success we had this year at Indianapolis, and we feel we've put together a race-winning package for both Kentucky and Las Vegas.

"Buddy worked so well with JR in May and I'm glad they'll get the opportunity to work together again because I can't ever remember a pair of teammates working together as well as those two did."

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