J.R. Hildebrand has signed a multi-year agreement with Panther Racing to drive the No.4 car in the IZOD IndyCar Series, starting with the 2011 season.
Panther Racing announced on Tuesday that Hildebrand, the 2009 Firestone Indy Lights champion, will replace Dan Wheldon in the No. 4 entry. National Guard will continue to sponsor the team's efforts.
"I couldn't be more excited to be at Panther Racing and a part of the National Guard," Hildebrand said in a team statement. "This is my first full-time IndyCar ride, and the Panther No.4 car is one of the best seats in the IZOD IndyCar Series, so to be able to start my career with a team with this kind of pedigree is just huge."
The 22-year-old Hildebrand drove a Panther car during a two-day test session last week at Phoenix International Raceway.
In August, Hildebrand made his IndyCar debut at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, driving the No.24 Dreyer and Reinbold Racing car to a 16th-place finish. He also competed at Sonoma, CA later that month.
Hildebrand will become the sixth driver to drive Panther's No.4, joining Scott Goodyear (1998-2000), Sam Hornish Jr. (2001-2003), Tomas Scheckter (2004-2005), Vitor Meira (2006-2008) and Wheldon (2009-2010).
"J.R. is an extremely impressive young man, and he's going to be a great fit for the National Guard and Panther Racing," John Barnes, the team's chief executive officer and managing partner, said.
Wheldon won the IndyCar championship in 2005, when he drove for team owner Michael Andretti.