INDIANAPOLIS, IN- What an interesting change of events for the Izod IndyCar Series.
National Guard, which has been with Panther Racing since the start of the 2009 IndyCar season, has decided to leave the team following the season finale in Fontana next weekend. They will take their sponsorship to Rahal/Letterman/Lanigan Racing starting in 2014.
The full-time primary sponsor will go to the No. 15 Honda driven by American Graham Rahal next year. That huge for RLL and Rahal as they get a fully funded deal and can possibly run a third car.
No word was said yet why National Guard wanted to leave Panther but two obvious reasons likely are underperforming this year and them wanting an American driving their colors.
In 2009 and 2010 Dan Wheldon drove the No. 4 National Guard car then they got an American in J.R. Hildebrand in 2011. Wheldon and Hildebrand took that sponsor to three straight runner-up finishes in the Indianapolis 500 their first three years on the car, but Hildebrand has since struggled.
The team was so far off it led to Hildebrand’s released following a dead last 33rd place finish in this year’s 500. They put Spaniard Oriol Servia and Australian Ryan Briscoe in the car since as there were rumors that Briscoe will be the full time driver at Panther in ’14.
With all of that being said why not go to another young American with a solid ride?
Now, Rahal’s other sponsors Midas, Big O Tires, Valvoline and Blu e Cigs could go to another car at RLL. This is a big win for Rahal and huge loss to Panther.
Eric Smith is the Lead Motorsports Writer for Race Review Online. Follow him on Twitter @ericsportsguru
The post IndyCar: Graham Rahal Gets National Guard Sponsorship for 2014 Season appeared first on Race Review Online.