Oriol Servia, of Spain, rounds a tight corner during practice for the IndyCar Grand Prix of Long Beach auto race Saturday, April 20, 2013, in Long Beach, Calif. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)
Thursday, April 25, 2013 7:54 pm
Servia told DRR to close after Indy without money
By JENNA FRYERAP Auto Racing Writer
Dennis Reinbold told Panther DRR employees and Servia this week he and co-owner Robbie Buhl will have to close the IndyCar Series team after next month's Indianapolis 500 if sponsorship isn't found.
The decision was first reported Thursday night by Speed.com and confirmed to The Associated Press by Servia.
"I didn't see it coming," Servia said. "I knew we were short on sponsorship money, but we haven't missed a single test. We haven't skipped anything."
Servia joined the team prior to the 2012 season after Newman-Haas Racing closed its doors during the offseason because of a lack of sponsorship. The Spaniard had just finished a career-best fourth in the IndyCar standings with three podium finishes, and wasn't told the team was closing until after he'd landed in Spain following a December visit with management.
The Newman-Haas closing was stunning, but Servia had several months to put together a new deal.
Now the news of DRR's predicament has him in a much more precarious situation. There are no open rides in IndyCar - particularly midseason - and with a commitment to DRR, Servia hadn't even been looking at other opportunities.
It's particularly troubling because of the turnaround DRR has made in the past year.
Saddled with a Lotus engine at the start of last year, the team struggled until it aligned with Panther Racing in May and switched to Chevrolet. Servia, with his new engine, drove to a fourth-place finish in the Indianapolis 500. He went on to score three more top-fives, and one seventh-place finish, before the season ended.
It gave the team high hopes for this year, particularly after Servia's sixth-place finish on Sunday at Long Beach.
"I was so happy with the car at Long Beach, so happy. We were making such progress," Servia said. "I didn't see any shortages. I figured maybe we'd skip some testing in the second half of the season. But never this.
"Unless a miracle happens, I don't see how we'll continue the same."