Panther Racing press release
Rice Lands Ninth for Panther; Pit Incident Dooms Hildebrand in KY
Former Indianapolis 500 Winner Collects Top Ten Finish on Kentucky Speedway’s 1.5-mile Oval
SPARTA, KY. (October 2, 2011) – Fuzzy’s Vodka driver Buddy Rice collected his first Top Ten finish of the season Sunday in the Kentucky Indy 300 at Kentucky Speedway, where the former Indianapolis 500 winner finished in ninth position. JR Hildebrand, driver of the team’s No. 4 National Guard entry, ran as high as second place but was involved in an incident on pit lane that injured a crewmember and put the National Guard team a lap down. Hildebrand finished in the 20th position.
During the pit incident on Lap 140, Panther crewman Eric Scheumann sustained a lower leg injury when he was struck by the front wing of the No. 4 entry. Scheumann was treated in the infield care center and later transported via helicopter to University of Kentucky Chandler Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky for further evaluation. Updates to his condition will be released when they are available.
Rice was making his second start of the season in the No. 44 Fuzzy’s Vodka entry and qualified in the 17th position before methodically climbing the grid prior to the team’s first pit stop on Lap 51. Rice returned to the field in the 14th position before the team pitted again under yellow on Lap 82. Buddy then battled with former teammate Danica Patrick and Tony Kanaan until pitting for the final time on Lap 140 in 15th spot. In the final 50 laps of the race, he continued to duel until eventually passing Will Power, Kanaan, Takuma Sato and finally Danica on the final lap of the race to secure the ninth place finish.
Hildebrand started in the fifth position and wasted no time getting his National Guard entry to the front of the field, as the IZOD IndyCar Series rookie climbed to second position after the team’s first pit stop on Lap 50. He battled with leader Dario Franchitti until a caution came out on Lap 80 for debris on the backstretch. Scott Dixon and Marco Andretti beat Hildebrand out of the pits at the line and JR restarted in fourth and locked horns with eventual winner, and former Panther driver, Ed Carpenter for a majority of the second stint – as the two drivers traded positions multiple times. A caution for contact in the pits involving Simona de Silvestro had the team lined up for what would potentially be its last pit stop of the day, but the incident in the pits caused the team to lose a lap and relegated Hildebrand to a 20th place finish.
The finish puts Hildebrand in the 14th position in the overall IZOD IndyCar Series point standings and he now trails Newman/Haas driver James Hinchcliffe by six points entering the final race of the 2011 season. The IZOD IndyCar World Championships at Las Vegas will be broadcast live on ABC at 3 pm Sunday, October 16th with additional coverage provided by the IMS Radio Network, XM channel 94 and Sirius channel 212.
JR Hildebrand, No. 4 National Guard Dallara Honda:
“My first concern was Eric (Scheumann) after the race and I’m glad I was able to get a chance to see him before he went to the hospital. I felt bad about what happened and obviously that was everybody’s primary concern after it happened. Guys in the pits were laid out in front and behind me and I tried my best to get the car slowed down but once I locked up a little bit it was impossible to get the car slowed down. Obviously the National Guard guys gave me a reallygood racecar. We had a good stop early in the race and were cruising and with a little attrition wound up second. I had no problem hanging in there behind Dario for that entire stint. On the second run, towards the end of the run the car was still hooked up. After the incident in the pits, we ended up having a little trouble getting the car sorted because we had to change the wing, and then we were never in a position to get that lap back.”
Buddy Rice, No. 44 Fuzzy’s Ultra Premium Vodka Dallara Honda:
“It was a good day for us in the Fuzzy’s Vodka car. I got everything sorted out before the halfway point, and everything came together for us. It’s just difficult with everybody as close as they are, but we got up there late in the race. The last couple yellows allowed us to stay up there and we could run with the front pack. It was a little difficult with everyone being so close with all the same stuff. We’ll get ready for Vegas, and we’ll see if we can’t get the Fuzzy’s car up there and a good run to end the season.”
Medical Update on Injured Panther Racing Crew Member
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (October 3, 2011) – Panther Racing crewman Eric Scheumann, who was injured during a pit stop Sunday at Kentucky Speedway, underwent successful surgery today at University of Kentucky Chandler Medical Center in Lexington to repair multiple fractures to his tibia and a fracture to the fibula in his left leg. Scheumann will remain in the hospital while recovering from surgery, but is expected to be released to return home this week.
Scheumann, who resides near Lake Havasu, is a licensed pilot who flies to Las Vegas where he works full-time as a firefighter and EMT. He joined the team prior to the Indy Japan 300 to change the inside rear tire on JR Hildebrand’s No. 4 entry and has worked as a mechanic on both the team’s No. 4 and No. 44 entries.