Mid-Ohio: Panther Racing preview

Panther Ready to Hit the Road (Course) at Mid-Ohio Meira Bounces Back with Strong Run at Nashville, Sets Sights on Sunday's Event INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (July 15, 2008) -- Panther Racing rebounded at Nashville Superspeedway with a solid...

Panther Ready to Hit the Road (Course) at Mid-Ohio

Meira Bounces Back with Strong Run at Nashville, Sets Sights on Sunday's Event

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (July 15, 2008) -- Panther Racing rebounded at Nashville Superspeedway with a solid sixth-place result with Vitor Meira behind the wheel of the No. 4 Delphi National Guard car. Now, he looks to continue his performance this weekend at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course along with Firestone Indy Lights teammates Dillon Battistini and Brent Sherman.

Mid-Ohio a Homecoming for Meira

Panther driver Vitor Meira returns to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course this weekend for the Honda Indy 200, in a race that will be a bit of a homecoming for the team's driver. Meira was a Columbus, Ohio resident while driving for the locally-based Rahal-Letterman Racing, of which Meira was a driver in 2004-2005. Meira insists upon living in the same city as his race team in order to develop a relationship with everybody at the race shop because, he says, "I'd rather have friends working on my car."

Meira moved to Indianapolis in 2006 after he signed with Panther Racing, but enjoyed his time in Columbus and has fond memories of the city.

"I had a great time there," Meira recalls. "All the trails and country roads to ride my bike is what I miss most."

Local Guardsmen SPC Scarpino Puts Real "Hero" in Hero Card

At every race this season, Panther Racing is putting a real "hero" on their Hero Cards (driver autograph cards) in an effort to honor a local member of the Army National Guard. In each race market, the local division of the National Guard selects a "hero" to represent the National Guard in each state. The hero has his photo and biography printed on the back of each driver autograph card and sits next to Meira at the driver autograph sessions, signing his side of the card along with Panther's veteran driver.

SPC Kevin Scarpino was assigned to 2nd Platoon, B Company, 612th Engineer Battalion, as a M249 Turret Gunner during Operation Enduring Freedom III. His platoon's mission was Task Force Iron Claw (route clearance) in AO Baghdad. His platoon was credited with finding 62 IEDs and clearing over 81,000 KM in AO Baghdad. SPC Scarpino's platoon was attacked by IEDs twice, and small arms fire on numerous occasions. SPC Scarpino's quick action during these engagements was highly commendable. He gave guidance to other members of the Task Force. His ability to think quickly and give sound relevant guidance and directions undoubtedly saved time and the lives of other Task Force members. SPC Scarpino was approximately one month out of boot camp when he was deployed. SGT Scarpino is currently assigned to Camp Perry Training Site.

Battistini Looks to Battle Back into Indy Lights Points Race

One week ago must seem like a lifetime for Panther Indy Lights driver Dillon Battistini. Because it was then that the rookie driver had a healthy 30-point lead in the Firestone Indy Lights Championship standings. Three races and three DNFs later, Battistini finds himself fourth in points, 49 behind leader Richard Antinucci. It all started with a rough weekend at Watkins Glen, where Battistini spun in the first race and then had contact with driver Bobby Wilson in the second of the Twin Corning 100s. The No. 15 team was prepared to rebound in Nashville, after qualifying in third position, Dillon was in second place and battling for the lead on a restart when Jeff Simmons made contact with his left-rear wheel, flattening Battistini's tire and effectively ending his race.

For the record, this was the fourth time in the last 12 months -- and second time at Nashville - that Simmons has made contact with a Panther car that resulted in a DNF. Simmons ended three of former Panther driver Kosuke Matsuura's races in the IndyCar Series last season (Homestead, St. Pete and Nashville) when Simmons was driving for Rahal-Letterman Racing. Simmons was released from RLR after contact with Matsuura at Nashville in 2007.

Vitor Meira, No. 4 Delphi National Guard:

"After Nashville, everybody at Panther is ready to go again. We had a few weeks there when the breaks weren't going our way, and I said all along that all it takes is one good result to get everybody excited and motivated again. I like Mid-Ohio, it's a drivers track and one where we should be really good this weekend. I used to live near Columbus when I drove for Rahal, so I'm excited about getting back there. It should be a good weekend for the Delphi National Guard guys."

Dillon Battistini, No. 15 AlexP Indy Lights:

"I am looking forward to Mid-Ohio and showing what I can do on a road course. We had an unusual set of circumstances at Watkins Glen, since we missed the test there, which caused us to perform below our normal standards. Coming from a road course racing background, I am confident that I will do well. During the test at Mid-Ohio we ran decently and went through different setups on the car. I am confident that we will be competitive and challenge for the win this weekend."

Brent Sherman, No. 16 National Guard Delphi Indy Lights:

"I'm ready to get back at it this weekend at Mid-Ohio. We had a good test there, so I've got an understanding of the course and how to get around the place. I'm learning and the team is learning how to perform better on the road courses, and that will show this weekend. I'm excited about getting back out there."

-credit: pr

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Brent Sherman , Kosuke Matsuura , Jeff Simmons , Richard Antinucci , Bobby Wilson , Dillon Battistini , Vitor Meira
Teams Panther Racing