After Indianapolis Success, Panther Carries Momentum to Milwaukee Indy Lights and IndyCar Series Teams Head to Mile on a Roll Milwaukee, Wis. (May 28, 2008) -- After collecting a victory in the Freedom 100 and a second place result in the...
After Indianapolis Success,
Panther Carries Momentum to Milwaukee
Indy Lights and IndyCar Series Teams Head to Mile on a Roll
Milwaukee, Wis. (May 28, 2008) -- After collecting a victory in the Freedom 100 and a second place result in the 92nd Running of the Indianapolis 500, Panther Racing and its trio of drivers are heading into this weekend's races at the Milwaukee Mile with confidence at its highest point in the season.
Vitor Meira is returning to action in his No. 4 Delphi National Guard machine after a spirited run in the Indy 500, where he finished second after a duel with eventual winner Scott Dixon. Meira's race was highlighted by a breathtaking move on a Lap 159 restart when he went from third to first after a bold pass of Ed Carpenter and Dixon on the outside of the first turn. Meira led a total of 11 laps in the race and settled for a runner-up finish, his second at Indianapolis.
Coming off its win in the Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Panther Racing's Firestone Indy Lights teams will attempt to do something they have never done; complete a lap at the Milwaukee Mile. The team will put the duo of Brent Sherman and Dillon Battistini up to that challenge at the legendary one mile oval.
Panther's only other Firestone Indy Lights race at the Milwaukee Mile came last year with driver Hideki Mutoh. Mutoh however was unable to complete a lap due to a crash. Mutoh, who qualified fifth, was entering the second turn of the one-mile oval on the first lap of the event when the rear of his car suddenly snapped around, causing him to make contact with another competitor and the outside retaining wall.
The team's IndyCar Series operation has had much more success at the Mile. Meira, the 2004 polesitter while driving for Rahal-Letterman, finished fifth at the track last season, and was running well in 2006 before a mechanical failure sent his No. 4 car into the wall. In 2005, then-driver Tomas Scheckter secured a podium finish at Milwaukee when he finished in third position, and the year previous -- in 2004 -- Townsend Bell finished sixth in the team's first trip to the Mile.
Battistini moved up to second in the points after his victory in the Freedom 100. He is three points back of series leader Richard Antinucci. The win for Battistini, who started on the pole for the race, was his second of the season after winning the season opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway, and gave him his fourth top 5 finish in five races.
Meira currently ranks 14th in the IndyCar Series points standings, but the team's driver knows that if he hadn't been taken out at St. Petersburg his team would rank much higher in the standings. With many new key team personnel members in place, Meira is making reference to 2006, when his team went on a summer-long run that included seven podium finishes.
Sherman is looking to get back on track after his 16th place finish at Indianapolis. The driver of the No. 16 Delphi National Guard car currently sits eighth in the championship standings, 76 points back of Antinucci, but just seven points back of the seventh place car of Sean Guthrie.
The ABC Supply Co. Inc. A.J. Foyt 225 will air live on ABC and the IMS Radio Network at 4 p.m., Sunday June 1st. The Firestone Indy Lights Milwaukee 100 will be broadcast on ESPN2 Thursday June 5th at 1 p.m. (EDT).
"I've always liked Milwaukee. We finished fifth there last season and I was running in the top three there with Panther my first year until we had a problem. Plus, coming off our performance at Indianapolis the entire team is confident and excited to get to another race. We feel like it's not 'if' we're going to win a race, but 'when'. This championship is tight and there are lots of good drivers and teams, but we feel like we finally have all the pieces in place to have another great summer run."
"We tested (at the Milwaukee Mile) last month and we had very competitive times. The car was strong, and I am confident that we can continue the good run. Milwaukee has a very different feel for it than Indy does. There is hardly any bank, and the surface is rough. This is my first time on a 1 mile oval, so it is a completely different challenge."
"We need to redeem ourselves after last weekend, but Indy's done; it's a new weekend. There are really no similarities between (Milwaukee) and Indy. With the weight rule in affect, it should benefit (the No. 16 Delphi National Guard team). We had a good test (in Milwaukee). We will show up with our testing setup and run a good race."