Iowa: Panther Racing preview

Panther Turns Its Focus to Iowa Speedway Race Weekend Delphi National Guard Driver Vitor Meira Looks to Finish What He Started in 2007 INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (June 17, 2008) -- Panther Racing driver Vitor Meira had one of the strongest cars on...

Panther Turns Its Focus to Iowa Speedway Race Weekend

Delphi National Guard Driver Vitor Meira Looks to Finish What He Started in 2007

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (June 17, 2008) -- Panther Racing driver Vitor Meira had one of the strongest cars on the track last season during the IndyCar Series inaugural Iowa Corn Indy 250 at Iowa Speedway, where he led a total of 71 laps before a suspension failure ended a otherwise strong run in ninth position.

With the team riding higher now than they were a season ago, Meira is hopeful his team can continue its hot streak that started at the 92nd Indianapolis 500 and get his No. 4 Delphi National Guard car into victory lane. For Saturday's Firestone Indy Lights events, Panther's duo of Dillon Battistini and Brent Sherman will look to solidify their efforts on Iowa's 7/8-mile oval.

Vitor has led laps in two of the last three events, including at Indianapolis where he led 11 laps before finishing second to winner Scott Dixon. Meira led again in Texas for 38 laps before he had to pit late in the event for fuel. An untimely yellow trapped Vitor a lap down, and the caution period enable several leaders to extend their fuel window until the end of the race, meaning Vitor's victory shot ended with a seventh place finish.

Meira's 71 laps led at Iowa last season is the most laps he's led in a single event in his two-plus years with Panther. He currently ranks 12th in the IndyCar Series Championship Points Standings.

Former Panther driver Kosuke Matsuura finished 15th at Iowa last season after an incident with Jeff Simmons.

Panther's only other Firestone Indy Lights race at the Iowa Speedway came last year with driver Hideki Mutoh. Mutoh turned in a third place finish for Panther after qualifying in the eighth position for the race. The Panther driver moved up two positions in the first lap of the race and into fourth position by Lap 36. After a lengthy battle with Sean Guthrie, Mutoh was able to move past him on Lap 60 into the third position where he finished the race.

Battistini moved to within one point of championship leader Richard Antinucci after the Milwaukee 100. Battistini is the series' only driver to have multiple victories this year, having won the season opener in Miami and the Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. After finishing 14th at the Milwaukee Mile, Battistini will try to take over the championship lead and place his car back inside the Top 5 where he has finished four of the six races.

Sherman, who has two consecutive finishes outside the Top 10, will try to improve on his 11th place finish at Milwaukee. The driver of the No. 16 Delphi National Guard car is currently 12th in the championship standings, 71 points back of Antinucci, but just 13 points back of the sixth place car of Jeff Simmons.

Vitor Meira, No. 4 Delphi National Guard:

"It was nice to have a break, but I'm really excited to get back to racing and out on the road again with all the guys on the team. We've been racing so much that even a week off seems like much longer. Iowa is a race we've had circled on our schedule all year. We felt like we had the car to beat there last year until we had the suspension failure. But this season is a new challenge, there are a lot of new guys out here and this race will be much more difficult than it was last year.

Dillon Battistini, No. 15 AlexP Firestone Indy Lights:

"The biggest challenge this weekend will be getting the car right for qualifying. Qualifications are going to be important (at Iowa) because it will be hard to overtake someone. We worked hard at the test session and made good ground. We know what we need to work on to improve and to return to the form that we are used to. At the test there were close lap times, so there will be many strong cars that can run up front. "

Brent Sherman, No. 16 Delphi National Guard:

"I'm excited about the race in Iowa this weekend. We need to get back on track. We started off the season well, but we've slipped a little bit every week. We need a decent finish. Hopefully the track stays consistent and we learned enough at the test that we have a good grip of the setup and the handling. We need to be competitive from the start. Our Delphi National Guard team tested there last week and I feel like we made some solid progress from where we were at the last short track (Milwaukee)."

-credit: pr

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Brent Sherman , Kosuke Matsuura , Jeff Simmons , Sean Guthrie , Hideki Mutoh , Dillon Battistini , Vitor Meira
Teams Panther Racing