Jul 31, 2012
Giorgio Pantano will fill in for Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing driver Charlie Kimball in the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio this weekend after Kimball fractured the fifth metacarpal in his right hand in a testing incident at the road course July 26.
Evaluation in Indianapolis revealed the sophomore IZOD IndyCar Series driver of the No.83 NovoLog FlexPen car would not be ready to return for the 85-lap race on the 2.258-mile, 13-turn road course.
Pantano, 33, of Italy, competed in three late-season road/street races for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing in 2011 (best finish of 16th at Twin Ring Motegi) as a substitute for the injured Justin Wilson. He made his first two starts in the IZOD IndyCar Series with Chip Ganassi Racing in 2005 at Sonoma and Watkins Glen (started second, finished fourth).
“It’s a tremendous opportunity to be rejoining Chip Ganassi Racing and the IZOD IndyCar Series this weekend at Mid-Ohio," said Pantano, who won the 2008 GP2 Series Championship. "You never want to have something happen to another driver and I wish Charlie a quick recovery. Nonetheless, the opportunity is here and I am looking forward to working with the team again and making the best of it.”
Kimball has recorded five top-10 finishes in 11 races, highlighted by a career-best second at Toronto earlier this month. His best start is seventh at Motegi last September. The former Firestone Indy Lights competitor has seven top 10s in 28 races over two seasons.
“Not having Charlie drive at Mid-Ohio is very disappointing," team managing director Mike Hull said. "Since INDYCAR has the best medical resource in motorsports, his recovery will be swift. His performance over the past few weeks has been impressive with increased momentum, so our expectation is that he will be back at full strength quickly.
"We’re fortunate to have Giorgio Pantano available as the 83 car driver at Mid-Ohio. His impressive global resume fits well with the natural-terrain road track of Mid-Ohio. To have a quality driver, who has won the GP2 Championship against the best and blends into the team concept, is hard to find on short notice."
Kimball started 10th and finished 11th in his first IZOD IndyCar Series race at Mid-Ohio. A Chip Ganassi Racing driver has won four of the five IZOD IndyCar Series races at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (Scott Dixon, three times; Dario Franchitti, once).
“I’m very disappointed to miss out on the Mid-Ohio race weekend," he said. "We had such a good race there last year and I was really looking forward to another shot at the podium. However, I trust the medical professionals at INDYCAR, and we’re making sure I’m back to 100 percent for Sonoma (Aug. 24-26).
"We’re lucky to have Giorgio in the seat of the No. 83 car while I’m healing up, and I’ll be there this weekend to help him and the Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing team. Even though I won’t be in the cockpit, I will do everything I can to drive the whole No. 83 car program forward for this season and the future."