Oriol Servia in for Panther at Mid-Ohio

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With Ryan Briscoe still on the mend after suffering a fractured wrist during the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader, Panther Racing has called in Oriol Servia to drive their No. 4 National Guard Chevrolet for this weekend’s Honda 200 (Sun., 3 p.m. ET, NBCSN) at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

It will be the Spaniard’s third start of the season for Panther; his most recent came at Iowa Speedway, where he finished seventh.

“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,” team co-owner John Barnes said in a statement. “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.”

Servia has been relatively consistent at Mid-Ohio over the course of his career, with six Top-10 results in eight career races there. His best finish at M-O was fifth in 2008 for KV Racing Technology. Last year, he finished 10th for Panther DRR.

“Iowa was my last race, and while I love ovals, I’m really looking forward to getting back on a road course,” Servia said in a team statement. “…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. I’m looking forward to being competitive this weekend and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be.”

Meanwhile, Briscoe will focus on making his return at the Aug. 11 American Le Mans Series event at Road America. He competes in the ALMS full-time for Level 5 Motorsports in addition to his part-time duties in the IZOD IndyCar Series.

“As long as I can turn the wheel at Road America, I’ll be OK,” he said according to RACER Magazine. “It will be tough, but I’m confident I’ll be all right. [ALMS cars] have power steering, which will make things easier.

“Realistically, my next time in an IndyCar will be testing with Panther at Sonoma, but Sonoma is one of the heaviest places [IndyCar goes] to for steering. I’ll have some more time to recover before that race, so I hope I won’t have any limitations for the rest of the season.”

NHRA: Brittany Force cleared to race this weekend in Phoenix after bad wreck 2 weeks ago

Photo: John Force Racing
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Drag racing is a Force family tradition. So, too, is not keeping a Force family member down.

Just 12 days after the most serious wreck of her six-year drag racing career, Brittany Force and John Force Racing announced late Thursday afternoon that the defending 2017 NHRA Top Fuel champion has been medically cleared and will indeed race in this weekend’s NHRA Arizona Nationals at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in suburban Phoenix, Arizona.

“I flew into Phoenix early this (Thursday) morning and headed straight out to the race track to meet up with my team,” Force said. “I suited up and got belted back into my car that I ran all last season.

“It honestly felt good to be strapped back in and I was surprised how comfortable I was. I’m looking forward to getting back in my car tomorrow (Friday’s first two rounds of qualifying) and getting back in the swing of things with my guys.”

The 31-year-old Force, one of four daughters of 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force, suffered a concussion and bruising after the hard crash she was involved in on February 11 in the first round of eliminations of the season-opening NHRA Lucas Oil Winternationals in Pomona, California.

Shortly after leaving the starting line in a race vs. Terry Haddock, Force’s dragster crossed from the right to left lanes, impacted the retaining wall with a very hard lateral crash, bounced off, spun, went on its side and briefly caught fire after crossing the finish line wheels-up.

While she is still recovering from the bruising, Force feels strong enough to get back behind the wheel. Getting back in the race car could be the best medicine of all, since she has three runner-up finishes in Phoenix, including back-to-back second-place showings in both the 2016 and 2017 national events.

The three-day event kicks off Friday with qualifying rounds at 4 and 6:30 p.m. ET, the same times as Saturday’s qualifying. Final eliminations begin at 1 p.m. ET Sunday.