PANTHER SIGNS FORMER NASCAR DRIVER BRENT SHERMAN FOR 2008 INDY PRO SERIES SEASON
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (February 19, 2008) – Panther Racing announced today it has signed former NASCAR driver Brent Sherman to pilot its Indy Pro Series car for the 2008 season. Sherman recently completed a test with Panther on the road course at Homestead Miami Speedway, and Panther team owner John Barnes believes the Minnesota-born driver can lead his IPS team to another championship season.
“It says a lot about the Indy Pro Series when a driver of Brent Sherman’s caliber wants to make this historic move from NASCAR to open-wheel racing,” Barnes said. “I was surprised when I got the first call from Brent, but after getting to know him and seeing his talent first-hand in Panther’s IPS car, I realized this is a guy that can win races and deliver another championship to our race team.
Sherman’s move from NASCAR to the Indy Racing League is contrary to the current trend. With so many open-wheel drivers making the move to stock cars, Sherman is heading the opposite direction. After spending six years in the United States Air Force – a stint that included four years conducting combat, surveillance and instructional missions on an AWAC airplane – Sherman entered a racing school and his racing career was underway.
He competed in the Barber Dodge Pro Series and Grand Am before making the move to the NASCAR Busch Series in 2004.
“Open-wheel racing is where I started my career and I’m happy to be back with a team like Panther Racing,” Sherman said. “I want to be successful, and I’m here to win races and championships. I’ve been a lot of places in my career, but the opportunity to drive for a championship caliber team like Panther is the opportunity I haven’t had elsewhere.”
In his career, Sherman racked up over 60 starts in the Busch Series from 2004-2007. He began the 2006 season as a full time NASCAR Nextel Cup driver with BAM Racing, and collected his career-best finish at the Daytona 500 that year, finishing 21st, ahead of fellow rookies J.J. Yeley, David Stremme, Reed Sorenson and Denny Hamlin.
“I’m just really excited to join Panther Racing and a great series like the Indy Pro Series,” Sherman said. “I don’t think a lot of guys in NASCAR realize that kind of opportunities the Indy Racing League has. Guys down there are scraping together all the money they can find to run a partial season or a test in ARCA, Craftsman Trucks or the Busch Series when they could run a full season of IPS. I’m happy to be here.”
Last season, he won the ARCA Re/Max event at Michigan International Speedway.
“You don’t race where Brent has been racing the past few years and not have talent,” Barnes explained. “I knew that coming in and he proved that to us in his test last week. There are some adjustments he’ll have to make as he gets comfortable with the IPS car, but what he’s shown us is that he’ll be right up to speed when the season starts at Homestead.”
Panther’s IPS teams have been some of the most successful in the series’ history. After a dominant championship run in 2003, Panther returned from a three-year hiatus last season with Hideki Mutoh, who won two races last season en route to a runner-up finish in the championship.
In its history, Panther has won nine races and finished on the podium in over half of its 27 starts in the series. Both of Panther’s former IPS drivers have graduated to the IndyCar Series, and most recently Mutoh signed with Andretti Green Racing to replace departed Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar Series champion Dario Franchitti.
Sponsorship details for Panther’s IPS entry will be released at a later date.
The Indy Pro Series season kicks off Saturday, March 29th at Homestead Miami Speedway’s 1.5-mile oval. Panther won the IPS event at Homestead in 2003 with Mark Taylor, his first of a then-record seven wins that season.