Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing has won the appeals battle with Panther Racing over which team would be awarded the lucrative Army National Guard sponsorship for the 2014 IndyCar Series season according to a report by the Associated Press' Jenna Fryer.
The Guard will be the primary sponsor for Graham Rahal on the RLLR No. 15 entry this season.
The sponsorship had been seemingly up in the air since October when Rahal submitted a winning bid to acquire the sponsorship which is awarded on a year-to-year basis. Panther, which had partnered with the Guard at a rumored $10-13 million since 2008, protested and appealed the decision.
According to the report, the U.S. Government Accountability Office denied Panther's appeal last month.
With Panther, the Guard had sponsored drivers from a variety of different backgrounds and nationalities including JR Hildebrand, Dan Wheldon, Ryan Briscoe, Oriol Servia.
Now paired with Rahal, an American will again be the face of the National Guard IndyCar program, with the 25-year-old telling the AP that the deal ties into his deep patriotic roots.
"I think everybody that knows me knows I've always been extremely patriotic person," Rahal told the news agency. "I'm proud to be an American and I've always displayed it on my helmet and on my race shoes.
"So for me, there is more pride to be involved in this than anyone can know. I've always felt strongly that the guard should have an American driver and there's a lot of pride in having that seat."
Several silly season moves can now start to come together as a result of the decision as both teams were waiting on the appeal to process before advancing on possible second cars.
Panther is reportedly interested in running the full season but now may need a driver that brings money as opposed to a sponsor like the Guard that provides driver salary as part of the package. As reported last week, Rahal was exploring the possibility of maintaining a second car but was awaiting word from the National Guard before proceeding on a specific driver to pair with the second-generation Rahal.