Battistini Steals Victory in Jeld Wen 100; Takes Lead in Championship Standings
SHERMAN BRINGS HOME THE DELPHI NATIONAL GUARD HOME IN FOURTH
Newton, Iowa (June 21, 2008) - He’s done it again. Panther driver Dillon Battistini took the checkered flag for the third time this season in the Jeld Wen 100 at the Iowa Speedway and in the process took over the championship lead. Battistini’s Panther teammate, Brent Sherman also had a good showing in the race, bringing his Delphi National Guard machine across the finish line in fourth place.
Competing in his first season in the Firestone Indy Lights Championship, Battistini has managed to reach Victory Lane for the third time, with all his wins coming on oval tracks. Coming into the year, Battistini had never raced on an oval course, making his victories all the more remarkable.
“I would say that (ovals are) enjoyable to drive, for sure. In race conditions, it’s very difficult to pass because our cars are evenly matched on pace,” Battistini said. “We were really close at times. I have to admit when I first started driving at Homestead, it felt really quick. It felt quite dangerous running so close to other cars.”
After starting second and running there for most of the race, the driver of the No. 15 Alex P racecar was able to take advantage of lap traffic and make his move for the lead.
“I knew that (going into lap traffic) was my best chance to get past, for sure. I tried staying right on his gearbox when we were catching traffic. Even if I could get a slight run, it was difficult to find space to get past,” Battistini said. “I tried hanging back slightly. My hope was that he’d have to back off and I would be able to stay flat. That’s lucky for me, how it worked out.”
Sherman, who started the race in fifth position, moved up to finish in the fourth spot after battling cars around him for position all race long. After falling back at the beginning of the race, the driver of the Delphi National Guard racecar made several strong moves, and ended the race one spot off his best finish of the year, earning his second Top 5 of the season.
“It was a good run for us today in the Delphi National Guard car. On the last restart I was making a move for third place and had the pass made, but I got hung up behind a lapped car and had to slow way down. Then it looked like cars were going to pass me on both sides, but I got it back going and was able to bring it home fourth,” Sherman said of his run. “This is a strong result for the team, and I’m happy that my teammate was able to get another victory. We made some major improvements since we tested here and it paid off.”
The race results nearly duplicated the duos performance from the first race of the season at Homestead where Dillon won and Brent finished third. Battistini’s third victory of the season propelled him to first place in the championship standings, 27 points ahead of the second place driver. The fourth place finish by Sherman vaulted him up four spots in the championship race to eighth position, 88 points back of Battistini, but just 48 points out of third. The victory gives Panther Racing its 12th win in the Firestone Indy Lights series.
Panther Racing’s Firestone Indy Lights duo will be in action next in two weeks at Watkins Glen International competing in the corning Twin 100’s. The races will be held on Saturday July 5th with the first race beginning at 11:15 a.m. EST and the second race beginning at 3:20 p.m. EST. The Jeld Wen 100 will air on ESPN2 June 26th at 5:30 p.m. EST and the Corning Twin 100’s will air on ESPN2 July 10th at 2 p.m. EST.