MUTOH DOMINATES LIBERTY CHALLENGE TO END LLOYD'S STREAK INDIANAPOLIS, Saturday, June 16, 2007 -- Hideki Mutoh continued his domination of the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with a victory June 16 in Race 1 on the Liberty ...
MUTOH DOMINATES LIBERTY CHALLENGE TO END LLOYD'S STREAK
INDIANAPOLIS, Saturday, June 16, 2007 -- Hideki Mutoh continued his domination of the road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with a victory June 16 in Race 1 on the Liberty Challenge.
After leading practice and winning the SWE Pole Award on June 15, Mutoh led all 18 laps to claim his first Indy Pro Series victory. The win was the first for Panther Racing since 2003 when the team won the championship with Mark Taylor.
"It was pretty hot, but the car was so good," Mutoh said. "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 victory on the 13-turn, 2.605-mile circuit snapped the record five-race winning streak of Alex Lloyd. 2007 Freedom 100 winner Lloyd, who started second in the No. 7 Lucas Oil/Isilon Systems/SSM car, finished second, 6.273 seconds behind.
While the two leaders pulled away from the field, there was an intense battle for positions three through seven.
In the end, Andretti Green Racing's Jaime Camara finished third, his second podium finish of the season, 2005 series champion Wade Cunningham was fourth, and rookie Stephen Simpson was fifth. Richard Antinucci and Bobby Wilson, who battled each other for third for several laps, finished sixth and seventh, respectively.
After the race, Mutoh participated in a blind draw to determine the top starters for Race 2 of the Liberty Challenge at 8:35 a.m. Sunday. Mutoh drew an "8," meaning the top eight finishers will be inverted for the start of Race 2. Mutoh will start eighth, while Ryan Justice will start in the first position.
In the Formula BMW USA race, Daniel Morad continued his dominance of the series by winning. It was Morad's fourth victory in five starts this season.
Morad, from Markham, Ontario, started the race in the third position and overtook Esteban Gutierrez on Lap 4. He lost the lead on Lap 8 to Gutierrez but regained it on Lap 14 and went on to win the race by .7 of a second over fellow Canadian Maxime Pelletier.
Gutierrez finished in third place.
Following the race, series points leader Morad climbed the safety fence near the "Yard of Bricks" to celebrate his win, reminiscent of the ritual made popular at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway by two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Helio Castroneves.
"It was so much fun out there," Morad said. "Maxime (Pelletier), Esteban (Gutierrez) and I had a great battle. Neither of us wanted to give each other the slipstream down the straightaway."
The second Formula BMW USA series race of the weekend is scheduled for 9:40 a.m. Sunday, with Esteban Gutierrez starting on the pole.
Charles Scardina won the first IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge race of the USGP weekend.
"The racing was very clean. I was very happy with that." Scardina said. "The track was fantastic, not too many yellows, no debris."
It was the third victory in four starts this season for series points leader Scardina.
Scardina, from Delray Beach, Fla., took the lead on Lap 2 by overtaking Bob Faieta. He retained the lead throughout the remainder of the race and won by 2.3 seconds over Faieta. Jay Policastro finished third.
The second IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge race will take place at 10:40 a.m. Sunday.
2007 USGP tickets: Reserved Race Day tickets for the 2007 United States Grand Prix on June 17 are on sale to all customers.
Ticket information can be found any time at www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com or by calling the IMS Ticket Office at (800) 822-4639 or (317) 492-6700.