Kentucky: Panther Racing qualifying report

Meira Nails Front Row Starting Position, Starts Second at Kentucky Delphi National Guard Driver Gives Panther Best Start Since 2005 SPARTA, Ky. (August 8, 2008) - Panther Racing driver Vitor Meira landed his best starting position in three...

Meira Nails Front Row Starting Position, Starts Second at Kentucky
Delphi National Guard Driver Gives Panther Best Start Since 2005

SPARTA, Ky. (August 8, 2008) - Panther Racing driver Vitor Meira landed his best starting position in three years after putting the No. 4 Delphi National Guard machine on the front row for tomorrow night's Meijer Indy 300 at Kentucky Speedway. Meira, who narrowly missed pole position, considers Kentucky a landmark venue in his open-wheel career, and hopes his 90th career IndyCar Series start will conclude in Victory Lane.

His four-lap average was 218.409 mph, after posting laps that continued to get faster and faster on each circuit. The No. 4 car will begin tomorrow's race in the middle of a Ganassi Racing sandwich, with Scott Dixon on pole and former Panther driver Dan Wheldon starting third.

Vitor started his first career race at Kentucky's 1.5-mile oval in 2002 with Team Menard, and also passed his league rookie test at the Sparta, Kentucky racetrack. Tomorrow's race will mark his 45th start for Panther, surpassing Sam Hornish Jr. (44 starts) to make Meira the driver who has taken the most green flags for the two-time IndyCar Series champs.

Vitor has finished inside the Top Ten in four consecutive starts at Kentucky.

Panther hopes to deliver its Brazilian driver the same success as Hornish, Jr. experienced at Kentucky. Hornish finished second here in 2002 and the following year started from the pole and won the race in dominating fashion - lapping all but the second and third place finishers en route to victory. The team also won the Indy Lights race here last season with Hideki Mutoh.

The front row starting position for Panther is its best qualification effort since Tomas Scheckter started on the front row for the 2005 season finale at California Speedway. The team's last pole came in the same year, when Scheckter started from the point at Nashville Superspeedway. Meira last started on the front row in Homestead in 2005, ironically, with Panther's Scheckter in the pole position.

Vitor has two career pole positions; 2002 at Texas Motor Speedway and the Milwaukee Mile in 2004.

The Meijer Indy 300 will be broadcast live on ESPN2 at 6:30 p.m. (ET) with additional coverage provided by the IMS Radio Network and XM Satellite Radio channels 144 and 145.

Panther's Indy Lights Duo Start Inside the Top Ten

SPARTA, Kentucky (August 4, 2008) -Coming off a stretch of five races that included four road courses and only one finish inside the Top Ten, Panther Racing Firestone Indy Lights teammates Dillon Battistini and Brent Sherman were ready to get back to oval track racing. Each driver has had his most success so far this season on ovals, and with qualifying efforts that placed them inside the Top Ten, both are poised for the win at the Kentucky Speedway.

Battistini, who will start his No. 15 National Guard Delphi race car in the fourth spot, is looking to add to his series-leading three wins and jump back into championship contention.

Battistini is currently sixth in the championship standings, 77 points behind leader Richard Antinucci. Teammate Brent Sherman is 12th in the standings, 20 points behind eighth place Pablo Donoso.

The Firestone Indy Lights Kentucky 100 will be held on Saturday, July 9th at 9:15 p.m. (ET) following the conclusion of the Meijer Indy 300. The race will air on ESPN2 August 14th at 2 p.m. (ET) on ESPN2.

Vitor Meira, No. 4 Delphi National Guard:

"The Panther guys are on it this weekend. The Delphi National Guard car has been quick since we unloaded it today, and we had a feeling after our test last weekend that we were going to be pretty good. The way the Ganassi cars are running this season, you know you're in a good place when you're starting next to them. The test we had here made a ton of difference and we want to make it pay off tomorrow. Kentucky is a very special track to me, and it's one of my favorites. My first ever race in IndyCar was here, and this was the same place I passed my rookie test. I know Panther has really done well here in the past, and hopefully tomorrow will be a day we'll remember for a long time."

Dillon Battistini, No. 15 AlexP (Indy Lights):

"Starting in the second row isn't a bad place to be starting. It is a little disappointing though. We looked good on the first lap, but just slowed a little on the second. I will definitely be going for the win this race. We haven't finished the last few races, but that won't stop me from going for the win. We have been strong on ovals all year, so I expect us to be extremely strong tomorrow and contend for the win. We are going to try to move forward. Hopefully we will have a setup that allows us to do that."

Brent Sherman, No. 16 National Guard Delphi (Indy Lights):

"I am running a similar setup to Dillon, but we've gone away from it a little. Our comfort levels in the car are different, so setting up the cars identical is tough. We had a solid day of practice. We lost a little speed in the second session, but we rebounded nicely from it. My car seems faster in the dirty air, rather than when we ran qualifying setups in practice, so we should be able to move up the field into the front. I think we should be pretty strong tomorrow. I am looking forward to the race. Being back on the ovals gives us a good chance to get the win."

-credit: pr

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