Panther Driver Hideki Mutoh Wins Pole at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Indy Pro Series Driver Will Start from the Point in Saturday's Liberty Challenge INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (June 15, 2007) -- Just one day after Hideki Mutoh tested the No. 55...
Panther Driver Hideki Mutoh Wins Pole at Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Indy Pro Series Driver Will Start from the Point in Saturday's Liberty Challenge
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (June 15, 2007) -- Just one day after Hideki Mutoh tested the No. 55 Panasonic IndyCar Series car for the first time, he took his Super Aguri Panther Racing Indy Pro Series car on a ride around the road course of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to earn the SWE Pole Award, the first pole position of his young career.
Mutoh is will start first in tomorrow's Liberty Challenge, alongside Alex Lloyd, who is the winner of every one of the Indy Pro Series' races this season. His qualification lap speed of 109.966 mph, 1:25.2810 seconds was more than three tenths of a second faster than Lloyd. Hideki looks to be the first to break the Sam Schmidt Motorsports driver's historic streak.
His accomplishment comes just a day after testing the No. 55 IndyCar Series Honda at Mid-Ohio along with Panther driver Vitor Meira. Team owner John Barnes has said Mutoh reminds him of former Panther driver Sam Hornish Jr., and Barnes pointed to the mental toughness the team's young Japanese driver has shown this season.
Mutoh, who is still looking for his first win in the series, has finished inside the Top Five in all but one of his five starts in the league. He is currently in second place in the Indy Pro Series standings, 112 points behind Lloyd.
For Panther, this is the first pole position earned by the Pro Series team since Mark Taylor started from the point at California Speedway in 2003, a race he dominated en route to victory. Ironically, that was also Panther's last victory in the Indy Pro Series that season, a year in which they won seven of the 11 races in which they competed.
"I am very happy to be able to start from the pole position. Several times I have been so close to getting the pole this season but we've never been able to get it. I'm happy and excited for the race tomorrow at Indianapolis. I am still learning the track so I hope to have a clean and safe race."
John Barnes: "We're excited to see Hideki run in the IndyCar Series car this week at Mid-Ohio, and even more excited to be honored with a pole award at Indianapolis. He's an absolutely tremendous talent and he's proved that this season in the Indy Pro Series. The thing about Hideki that I really love is that he's mentally tough. He reminds me a lot of a young Sam Hornish, and that's a compliment to how he approaches this sport mentally and his skill level. We're looking forward to his performance this weekend."