Mutoh, Super Aguri Panther Racing Dominate Liberty Challenge for First Indianapolis Motor Speedway Victory Indy Pro Series Rookie Mutoh Leads Entire Race; Wins by Six Seconds INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (June 16, 2007) -- Hideki Mutoh took advantage of...
Mutoh, Super Aguri Panther Racing Dominate Liberty Challenge for First Indianapolis Motor Speedway Victory
Indy Pro Series Rookie Mutoh Leads Entire Race; Wins by Six Seconds
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (June 16, 2007) -- Hideki Mutoh took advantage of his pole position Saturday afternoon at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where the Indy Pro Series rookie ran away with his first career victory in the Liberty Challenge.
The win was Panther's 23rd win from the IPS and IndyCar Series combined, and its first at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Mutoh took the first corner away from points leader Alex Lloyd on the Speedway's 2.605-mile road course and marched his way into a six second advantage while leading each of the event's 18 laps. Mutoh, who has collected Top Five finishes in all but one start this season, was never challenged.
For Panther, this is the team's eighth career win in the Indy Pro Series and first since Mark Taylor won from the pole at California Speedway in 2003. Hideki will remain in second place in the championship standings, still trailing Lloyd by over 100 points, but Panther's young talent was the first driver this season to take a victory away from the Sam Schmidt Motorsports pilot.
Following his win, Mutoh participated in a blind draw to determine the top starters for race two of the Liberty Challenge on Sunday morning. Mutoh drew an "8" meaning the top eight finishers will be inverted for the start of Race 2. The draw makes Mutoh's challenge to sweep the weekend much more difficult, but during his run to fifth place in the Freedom 100 during May, Mutoh was able to drive through over 15 cars after a tire puncture but him at the back of the field.
It is also the first victory for Panther at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a track where the team's owners have been focused on victory since the team was formed in late 1997.
"I am so happy. It was pretty hot, but the car was so good. I could have a big gap in the beginning of the race so I just tried to save my tires if I had a yellow, caution and stuff like that. So I tried to drive the car safe. But the reason I won was because the car was so good. The track was pretty much the same as yesterday. The car was setup perfectly for me. I'll try to my best tomorrow, and if I can finish on the podium that would be good."