Panther Hopes To Add to Kentucky Trophy Case Meira Returns to Debut Track; Matsuura Looks for Another Kentucky Top Five SPARTA, Ky. (August 9, 2007) -- Kentucky Speedway's exciting oval track is a special and memorable track for Panther ...
Panther Hopes To Add to Kentucky Trophy Case
Meira Returns to Debut Track; Matsuura Looks for Another Kentucky Top Five
SPARTA, Ky. (August 9, 2007) -- Kentucky Speedway's exciting oval track is a special and memorable track for Panther Racing and its drivers. Not only is it the site of a dominant victory for the team in 2003, when the team started from the pole position with Sam Hornish Jr. and dominated the race, but it's also a memorable track for the team's current drivers, Vitor Meira and Kosuke Matsuura.
Panther's Kentucky history is strong, in addition to its 2003 victory the team has won pole positions with Hornish (2003) and Scott Goodyear (2000). In Panther's first four starts, it collected podium finishes in each, leading laps in all of its first four starts.
Meira made his debut at the 1.5-mile oval for Team Menard in 2002, and every time the Brazilian returns, he remembers how far he's come in his open-wheel racing career. For Matsuura, Kentucky Speedway was the sight of his first Top Five finish, a fourth-place result in 2004 during his rookie year with Fernandez Racing.
Indy Pro Series driver Hideki Mutoh also made a debut here, when he drove and IndyCar Series machine for the first time on an oval during a test session. Mutoh is currently second in the Indy Pro Series championship, and is making preparations for his first IndyCar Series race at Chicagoland Speedway during the final race of the year. The Indy Pro Series race will go green on Saturday, shortly following the IndyCar Series event.
Last season, Meira started ninth and finished in sixth place for Panther. He also led five laps during the event. Matsuura is coming off a fourth place finish at Michigan International Speedway, where he equaled his career best finish. He hopes that a return to Kentucky will help keep his No. 55 Panasonic Panther Honda at the front of the field.
Now all three drivers are looking to help Panther return to victory lane at one of the series' most exciting ovals, which will host its first Saturday evening race in two days.
The Meijer Indy 300 will be broadcast live on ESPN2 with additional coverage provided by IndyCar.com, the IMS Radio Network and XM Satellite Radio channels 144 and 145.
"I think Kentucky is a special place for me, because this was the first track where I raced in this series. I like the track and certainly Panther has done really well here. This year hasn't gone the way we hoped, but we continue to give 100 percent every weekend, and that's all you can ask. We have four races to go, and we're going to give it everything we have until the season is over."
"Kentucky is a good track for me because I did well here in 2004 with my career best. The team got a lift from our performance last weekend and I'm happy for the Panasonic guys. I hope that the car is strong again this weekend and we continue to do well."