Panther Racing announced it has formed a strategic alliance with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing on Oriol Servia’s entry for the remainder of the IZOD IndyCar Series season.
The No. 22 Panther/DRR team will utilize Panther’s second Chevrolet engine lease and work in conjunction with the No. 4 National Guard team and driver JR Hildebrand beginning with the 96th Indianapolis 500.
“We’ve wanted to operate as a two-car team for some time now, but the right opportunity had never arisen to allow us to accomplish that,” Panther managing partner and CEO John Barnes said. “But as soon as we had the opportunity to work with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing and Oriol Servia – a guy I consider one of the best all-around drivers in IndyCar – this was a no-brainer for us.
"Dennis (Reinbold) and I have been friends for a long time, and they’ve got a great group of guys on their team that we’re very excited to be working with. I know we’re all looking forward to working under the same roof and expanding upon what we’ve both built all these years in the IndyCar Series.”
The teams shared a technical partnership at the end of the 2011 season and, effective immediately, will expand that effort under the same roof at Panther’s headquarters in Indianapolis. DRR and Group Lotus came to a mutual agreement recently to terminate their lease agreement of the Lotus engine.
“This is an unbelievably exciting prospect for us,” said Reinbold, co-owner of Dreyer & Reinbold Racing with Robbie Buhl. “The timing of aligning with Panther and putting this deal together is exceptional, especially knowing Panther’s history at the Indianapolis 500. We’re really looking forward to working together and taking advantage of the expertise that both teams share as we bring all our efforts together and move forward as a two-car team.
"We gave JR his start in IndyCar racing (filling in for the injured Mike Conway for two races), so we’ll always have a soft spot in our hearts for him and to pair JR alongside Oriol will allow them to feed off each other and continue to get better throughout the year. We’ve always enjoyed our associations with Panther in the past and we’re looking forward to a bright future together.”
Servia finished fourth in the championship last season with Newman-Haas Racing with 11 top-10 finishes, including runner-up finishes in New Hampshire and Baltimore.
“This is the best of both worlds. I’m already with a great team, a great crew and great owners at Dreyer & Reinbold Racing and affiliating with Panther is perfect because I’ve sat down with John Barnes many, many times to try and put a program together and we’ve never been able to do it for one reason or another,” Servia said.
“I’m also looking forward to joining the Chevy family; they’ve been performing so well and shown an unbelievable commitment to win. Panther has such a great record at Indianapolis and being a two-car team will only make us all stronger. JR did such a great job there last year as a rookie and he’s already doing so much better this year. He’s a great kid. I really like him and I’m sure we’re going to make a great team.”
General Motors has powered all of Panther’s 15 career IndyCar Series race victories and its championships in 2001 and 2002.