no images were foundGood news this evening as Panther Racing has announced that Buddy Rice will drive the #44 machine at the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500. He will team with J.R. Hildebrand for the month of May and maybe more according to Speed.com. That adds yet another defending race champ to the equation. Rice won the race in 2004 with Rahal/Letterman Racing. After two years of sports car racing in the GRAND-AM series, Rice will jump in an IndyCar for the first time since 2008.
This is really a great deal for not only Panther, but the 500 as a whole. This gives Panther two American drivers for the race and a fighting chance at doing very very well. The team has consistently finished towards the top of the tower and now have another defending champion piloting one of their machines. I am willing to go as far as to give Rice “darkhorse” status for this year’s event. This also gives J.R. Hildebrand a great veteran teammate to work alongside. It has been an interesting year for Panther thus far having a fresh Rookie in the car. Adding Rice as a mentor is obviously very positive as J.R. attacks his first 500 and hopefully beyond.
This is also a win for the Indianapolis 500 as a another American driver will be competeing. While it is not Jimmie Johnson or Jeff Gordon, having Buddy Rice on a team sponsored by the U.S. military will surly prove to be a fan favorite. Especially attached to a team that is very capable of winning the race.
Keep it here as we begin to ramp up coverage of Indianapolis heading into May. We will bring you all of the driver signings and entry news leading up to the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. Almost like a mini silly season….I like it!