National Guard Panther Racing Team storms into top ten, gets hit with avoidable contact late.
SONOMA, Calif. – It was an eventful day at the GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma for National Guard Panther Racing driver Ryan Briscoe, who quickly overcame a 22nd-place start to reach the Top Ten, until a late-race penalty left the team with a 17th-place result.
The race was Briscoe’s sixth – and final – start in the team’s No. 4 National Guard Chevrolet as his ALMS commitments conflict with the remaining four races on the IndyCar Series schedule.
Briscoe utilized several restarts early in the race to quickly pick off more competitors, ultimately moving past Tony Kanaan on Lap 13 to move to tenth. Briscoe held onto his Top Ten position until the team made its first pit stop on Lap 18 during a caution for contact between Simona Silvestro and Sebastian Bourdais.
Several pit strategies began to play out as the 85-lap race continued to be riddled with caution flags for contact involving several drivers. Unfortunately, as the race was in its closing stages the contact involved Briscoe, who entered Turn Seven three-wide on the inside and clipped the rear tire of Charlie Kimball, which sent the No. 83 car into a spin.
IndyCar officials issued Briscoe a black flag for ‘Avoidable Contact’ and the National Guard driver had to pit when the field restarted on Lap 80, sending him back to his eventual finishing position of 17th.
Ryan Briscoe, No. 4 National Guard Chevrolet: “The National Guard guys gave me a great car, there was just a little too much carnage out there today. The crew was great in the pits too – I was proud of them. What a way to bounce back from where we qualified.
The National Guard Chevy was really strong out there and we were able to pass lots of cars. I have to thank the team and the National Guard for giving me a chance to run again this weekend. We didn’t get the result we wanted but I’m happy with the way we all stuck together and bounced back from where we qualified.”