Natural Born Thriller: Battistini Puts Pedal Down For Fourth Win of Season at Kentucky
Sherman Charges from Back to Finish Fifth
SPARTA, Kentucky (August 9, 2008) –It might become routine for Panther Racing to test their Indy Lights drivers in an IndyCar at the Kentucky Speedway after Dillon Battistini followed in the footsteps of Hideki Mutoh by taking the checkered flag in the Kentucky 100. Teammate Brent Sherman battled his way to fifth after he spun on the warm-up lap.
Battistini started his No. 15 National Guard Delphi racecar in the fourth position, but quickly moved to the front battling for the lead on the first lap. Dillon took the lead on lap two and never relinquished it.
“I knew it was going to be hard to pass on this track. I knew there was a chance at getting (Matos) at the start, and luckily I pulled that off and was able to hang on,” Battistini said of his lap one move. “I still had to fight off some really strong competition. Luckily, we were strong enough to hang on to the lead.”
After being sent to the back of the field when he was spun by Jonathan Klein, Sherman fought his way back up to fifth, making it the third time this season that both Panther drivers have finished the same race in the Top Five.
“It’s no fun starting at the back. I feel like if I didn’t use my stuff up coming through the field I probably would have had a shot at the podium and probably would have battled my teammate for the win. The car was awesome, I just ran out of time. Those cautions killed me,” said Brent. “We had a really, really good setup on the car. It was really fast. I just like making it hard on myself. At the start, I don’t know what happened. It didn’t start, so we had to come back up through the field and they’re like, ‘Everyone knows you’re coming through,’ and the 22 car just swerved right in front of me. It was either hit him in the side or spin out, so I spun out and they made me go to the back. I don’t really agree with that. It’s also drivers not listening to their spotters and letting them know that we’re coming up through the field. It’s just a tough deal. But a top-five (finish) isn’t bad. I guess I’m happy.”
The win, Dillon’s fourth of the year, vaulted him up three spots in the championship standings into a tie for third with Arie Luyendyk, Jr., 57 points back of leader Richard Antinucci. Sherman moved up two spots into tenth, just one point out of eighth position.
“It feels good to make up some ground in the standings after the last few races,” Battistini said. “We still have three races to make up points. We are due for a strong showing on a road course, and after that is another oval, so I feel good about our chances to make up some points.”
The Firestone Indy Lights duo will be in action next in two weeks when they head to Infineon Raceway for the Carneros 100 and the Valley of the Moon 100 in Sonoma, California. The races will be held on Saturday August 23rd and Sunday August 24th and will air on ESPN2 Thursday August 28th at 5 p.m. (ET).