Indy teams decide to pair up for 2012 season
John Barnes and Dennis Reinbold grew up in the IndyCar Series
together. Now the two Indianapolis-based owners and longtime
friends are teaming up to help one another, just in time for the
biggest race of the season.
On Monday, less than a week before Indianapolis 500 preparations
begin, the teams announced Panther Racing would let Reinbold driver
Oriol Servia use its second Chevrolet engine in the No. 22 car, and
that Servia would serve as a teammate for Panther driver JR
Hildebrand. The teams will work out of Panther’s shop.
It was a deal forged out of necessity for both teams.
”We’ve wanted to operate as a two-car team for some time now,
but the right opportunity has never arisen to allow us to
accomplish that,” Barnes said. ”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.”
The decision may have been even easier for Reinbold, who has
fielded multi-car teams at the Indianapolis 500 in recent
In November, he agreed to use the new Lotus engines this season.
But two weeks ago, when it became apparent Lotus was playing
second-fiddle to powerhouse manufacturers Chevrolet and Honda,
Reinbold and Bryan Herta Autosport were released from those
Reinbold has been looking for a way to put Servia back in
contention before this month’s 500. Barnes had the engine Reinbold
wanted, and when Chevy approved, the deal was completed.
”This is the best of both worlds — I’m already with a great
team, a great crew and great owners at Dreyer & Reinbold — 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
The pairing also means two of last season’s top IndyCar drivers
will be working together for the rest of 2012.
Servia, a 37-year-old Spaniard, finished fourth in the points
with Newman/Haas Racing in 2011 when he had six top-five finishes
and five others in the top 10. At Indy, Servia started from the
front row after qualifying third. He finished sixth.
Hildebrand, a 24-year-old American, started all 17 races and
finished second to James Hinchcliffe in the 2011 rookie of the year
chase. The former Indy Lights champ had five top-10s last season
but is best remembered for hitting the wall on the final turn of
the last lap at Indy. After the crash, his No. 4 car skidded across
the finish line in second, behind the late Dan Wheldon. It was
Barnes’ fourth consecutive second-place finish at Indy.
Panther, a two-time series points champ, believes Servia’s
assistance can help them finally help them reach Victory Lane in
their hometown race.
”It’s great to be joining forces with those guys and this is
the next step toward being a contender at the front of the IndyCar
field on a consistent basis,” Hildebrand said. ”This is going to
be nothing but a huge gain for all of us.”
It’s not the first time these teams have worked together. Late
last season, Panther and DRR formed a technical partnership.
The pairing also reunites Hildebrand with DRR, the team with
which Hildebrand made his IndyCar debut in 2010. Hildebrand drove
twice for DRR, finishing 16th at Mid-Ohio and 24th at Infineon.
Servia was the 2005 Champ Car runner-up, the same season he won