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DATE News (chronologically)
07/31/12
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Pantano to sub for injured Kimball  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," Kimball 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."

NOTES OF INTEREST:

Pantano Returns to CGR:  Pantano made his first two starts in the IZOD Indy Car Series with Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR) in 2005 at Sonoma and Watkins Glen.  In those starts he completed 138 laps out of a possible 140 laps, or 98.6 percent.  His average start was 7.5 and his average finish 9.0.  With five total IndyCar starts to date entering this weekend, his highest start (second) and finish (fourth) came with CGR in 2005 at Watkins Glen.  Pantano has completed 315 laps out of a possible 353 laps in the series, or 89.2 percent. 

Pantano Profile:  The 33-year-old Italian started karting at the age of eight and between 1993 and 1999 won eight titles.  Pantano won the Formula 3 Germany Series in 2000, tested for several Formula One teams before racing with the Jordan Formula One Team in early 2004, and then won the 2008 GP2 Series Championship.

CGR at MOH:  CGR enters this weekend having won the last three races at Mid-Ohio (2009: Dixon; 2010: Franchitti; 2011: Dixon).  CGR drivers have made 35 starts at Mid-Ohio in 18 races, earning seven victories, two poles, 11 podiums, 20 top-fives and leading 330 laps.  They have an average start of seventh and an average finish of 8.2 at the 2.258-mile road course. 

Kimball’s Season to Date:  In 10 starts this season, Kimball has a career-best finish of second coming at Toronto, in addition to five top-10 results.  Following Round 9 he had placed a career-high 12th in the championship point standings, and is currently 14th in the title race with 216 points (-146 to leader Ryan Hunter-Reay).

QUOTEBOARD:

Mike Hull, Managing Director, Chip Ganassi Racing Teams:
“Not having Charlie drive at Mid-Ohio is very disappointing.  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.  We’re extremely lucky to have Giorgio on-board.”

Giorgio Pantano, Driver:
“It’s a tremendous opportunity to be rejoining Chip Ganassi Racing and the IZOD IndyCar Series this weekend at Mid-Ohio.  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.”

Charlie Kimball, Driver:
“I’m very disappointed to miss out on the Mid-Ohio race weekend.  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.  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.  I have to thank Novo Nordisk and the whole Chip Ganassi Racing team for being supportive this past week.”
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