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National Guard Leaving Panther Racing to Join Graham Rahal in 2014

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Eric Smith
ISR Racing Beat Writer

INDIANAPOLIS- No official word from Panther Racing or their sponsor the National Guard but multiple sources are telling us that the sponsor will depart the team following the season finale for the Izod IndyCar Series next weekend.

National Guard has been the primary sponsor on the No. 4 Panther Racing ride since the 2009 IndyCar season. The late Dan Wheldon was the  to have National Guard on the car at Panther as he drove that car in 2009 and 2010. American J.R. Hildebrand took over the ride in 2011 and was there until he was let go following the Indianapolis 500.

There’s no word why they left for RLL but two likely reasons are the struggles at Panther in 2013 and them wanted to have an American driver.

Panther has put  Spaniard Oriol Servia and Australian Ryan Briscoe in that car since Hildebrand’s release. Rumors were circulating that the ride was all but Briscoe’s in 2014. With no American in sight and a lack of performance out of that car this year it’s likely going to Rahal was attractive.

This move could actually help RLL move to three cars next year as Rahal’s deals with Midas, Big O Tires, Valvoline and Blu e-Cigs could be spread out to another car if James Jakes returns with his Acorn Stairlifts sponsor.

This could be a very good relationship with Rahal, an American driving the American colors next year.

Eric Smith is a Senior Writer for the Indy Sports Report covering Racing. Follow Eric and the Indy Sports Report on Twitter. Story updated 11AM ET Saturday morning.

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