Kentucky: Panther Racing preview

Panther Racing Looks to Continue Success at Kentucky Speedway this Weekend in Meijer Indy 300 Indy Lights Team Will Try to Add to Oval Win Total; Meira Positive after Test Session SPARTA, Kentucky (August 4, 2008) --In eight trips to ...

Panther Racing Looks to Continue Success at Kentucky Speedway this Weekend in Meijer Indy 300

Indy Lights Team Will Try to Add to Oval Win Total; Meira Positive after Test Session

SPARTA, Kentucky (August 4, 2008) --In eight trips to Kentucky Speedway Panther Racing has compiled eight Top Ten finishes, including four podium finishes and a victory in 2003. Vitor Meira and the No. 4 Delphi National Guard crew will head to 1.5-mile oval this weekend where they will try to add to Panther's accomplishments in the Meijer Indy 300.

Panther's success at the Kentucky Speedway is not limited to the IndyCar series. In its two previous Firestone Indy Lights races Panther has qualified its driver in the pole position, winning once, with Hideki Mutoh. Mark Taylor won the Indy Lights pole in Kentucky in 2003, but fell ill the following day and was unable to compete in the race.

Indy Lights teammates Brent Sherman and Dillon Battistini will look to follow the lead of the previous Panther drivers during the Kentucky 100.

During last year's Meijer Indy 300, Panther saw drivers Meira and Kosuke Matsuura finish the race 10th and 11th. After the race had ended eventual series champion Dario Franchitti, who was unaware the race had concluded, launched his No. 27 machine over the back of Kosuke Matsuura, who had slowed after completing the final lap.

Panther's lone IndyCar series victory at Kentucky came in 2003, where in dominating fashion, Sam Hornish, Jr. started on the pole and went on to lead 181 of the possible 200 laps. The victory was Panther's first of the season after winning five in 2002.

Panther's two prior Firestone Indy Lights races came in 2003 with driver Taylor and last year when current IndyCar driver Hideki Mutoh started in the pole position and led 66 of the 67 laps in route to the victory.

It was a battle all night for Mutoh, who spent the majority of the opening laps fighting off a hungry Wade Cunningham, and then endured a long yellow period before the final three-lap shootout. Hideki kept Cunningham and Alex Lloyd behind him on the final restart, but fell behind both drivers in the middle of the back straight on the last lap. Mutoh kept his foot in the gas and put No. 55 car on the bottom of the track entering the third turn, and was able to power past both drivers for the victory.

Meira currently sits 15th in the IndyCar Championship points standings, less than 40 points behind eighth place Oriol Servia with four points races to go.

Battistini leads the way for the Indy Lights team as he is sixth in points, 77 back of the leader, while Sherman is 12th, 20 points behind the eighth place driver.

The Meijer Indy 300 will be held at the Kentucky Speedway on Saturday, July 9th. The race 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.

The Firestone Indy Lights Kentucky 100 will be held on Saturday, July 9th at 8:15 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:

"I'm really looking forward to this weekend. I've always enjoyed racing at Kentucky and we were able to test there last week, and I came away really happy with the car. That will give us a head start coming into the weekend and Panther has done really well at Kentucky in the past. There are four races left in the season, and we're looking for a good result in all of them. There are lots of places we can improve in the championship, so our focus is going to be giving it 100 percent at every race. The Delphi National Guard team has worked hard all year, and we want these last four races to be our best."

Dillon Battistini:

"It was good to get to test in the IndyCar last week at the (Kentucky Speedway). That at least helps me to know what to expect from the track, which is just one less thing to worry about, since we missed the (Firestone Indy Lights) open test there. We will still have a lot of work to do to get the car setup though. Testing the IndyCar was also a big psychological boost. We've had our best results on ovals, so it will be good to put our past few performances behind us and make up some ground in the championship. It is good to know that when Hideki (Mutoh) tested the IndyCar here last year, he went on to win the Indy Lights race."

Brent Sherman:

"I've raced at Kentucky four or five times in ARCA and the Busch Series, so I am pretty familiar with the track. It's bumpy but fast. I really want to win though. My best chances to win are on the ovals and this is one of the few we have left. Our test there went pretty well. There were a couple guys there with quicker times, but it wasn't much quicker. Hopefully they went back to the data and found some more speed."

-credit: pr

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Mark Taylor , Dario Franchitti , Oriol Servia , Brent Sherman , Kosuke Matsuura , Alex Lloyd , Wade Cunningham , Hideki Mutoh , Dillon Battistini , Sam Hornish Jr. , Vitor Meira
Teams Panther Racing