Spain's Oriol Servia will make his third IZOD IndyCar Series start of the year with Panther Racing this weekend, as he takes over the #4 National Guard car in place of an injured Ryan Briscoe.
“I'm very excited to be back in the National Guard car,” said Servia. "I'm looking forward to being competitive this weekend and there's no reason why we shouldn't be.”
“Oriol's part of our family so it's very seamless for the National Guard crew to get him back in the No. 4 car,” said Panther owner John Barnes.
Servia had been left without a full-time ride earlier this year when Dreyer & Reinbold had to stop racing operations due to a shortfall of funding following the Indianapolis 500 in May. After JR Hildebrand was subsequently let go by Panther, Servia was later confirmed for two outings in the #4 Panther car in oval events at Texas Motor Speedway and Iowa Speedway.
“Iowa was my last race, and while I love ovals, I'm really looking forward to getting back on a road course," admitted Servia after Tuesday's announcement, which also confirmed that he would be with the team at Mid-Ohio for a one-day test on Wednesday.
"We have a test day before the race that will be a big help for us fine-tuning the car, and especially for me to knock off a little rust," Servia said. "Mid-Ohio is a very technical track and a (road course) specialist track, but I feel like everybody in our paddock is becoming a specialist because there are so many strong guys out there."
Briscoe had filled the race seat for the other events at Detroit, Milwaukee and Pocono, but he broke his right wrist in an accident in the first race of the Toronto double-header mid-July and had to sit out the next day's race, with Indy Lights star Carlos Muñoz taking over at short notice.
Mike Conway was drafted in by Briscoe's other current race team Level 5 Motorsport to substitute for him in a round of the American Le Mans Series at Mosport in Ontario, Canada. Working with co-driver Scott Tucker, Conway succeeded in bringing home the #552 HPD ARX-03b home in third place in the LMP2 category and in fourth place in the race overall. The event was won by the #6 Muscle Milk Pickett Racing HPD ARX-03c LMP1 car co-driven by Lucas Luhr, who will make his début in the IndyCar Series at Sonoma next month in a one-off second entry for Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing.
Although it's been almost three weeks since the accident at Toronto, Briscoe's wrist is not sufficiently healed to see him back on race duty as early as this weekend's round 14 of the IndyCar Series, with the team anxious not to set back his recovery by putting him in the car prematurely.
“We didn't want to rush Briscoe back from surgery and obviously Oriol is a great IndyCar driver and does a phenomenal job working with our crew," said John Barnes.
"The test day on Wednesday will be a big help and we're looking forward to a great weekend with our friends from the Ohio National Guard," he added.