IRL: Chicagoland: Panther Racing preview

Panther Trio Look for Third Chicagoland Victory Lazier Shoots for Victory in Last Start with Panther JOLIET, Ill. -- Panther Racing will look to win for the third time at Chicagoland Speedway this weekend in the Peak Antifreeze Indy ...

Panther Trio Look for Third Chicagoland Victory
Lazier Shoots for Victory in Last Start with Panther

JOLIET, Ill. -- Panther Racing will look to win for the third time at Chicagoland Speedway this weekend in the Peak Antifreeze Indy 300 presented by Mr. Clean. The team was victorious in both 2002 and 2003 when Sam Hornish, Jr. was driving the No. 4 Pennzoil Chevrolet. Buddy Lazier will join Panther regulars Tomas Scheckter and Tomas Enge this weekend, driving the No. 95 Pennzoil/American Red Cross Chevrolet.

Scheckter's best finish at Chicago came in 2003 when he started on the front row and finished fifth. Last season Tomas experienced an accident during the race and finished 19th. Scheckter has won three pole awards this season -- a Panther team record - and all came on tracks greater than one-mile in length.

Lazier was victorious in the 2002 IROC race on the 1.5-mile oval, after starting first. His best finish here in the IndyCar Series came in 2002, when he finished on the podium in the third position. He has not raced in Chicago since 2003.

RockStar Panther driver Tomas Enge will be racing for the first time at Chicagoland, although he did complete his rookie test here in 2004. The IndyCar Series rookie is coming off his career-best finish, which was a fifth-place result at Infineon Raceway. His previous best was sixth at Pikes Peak, scored just a week before his finish in Sonoma.

The Peak Antifreeze Indy 300 presented by Mr. Clean will be held on Sept. 11 at 1:30 p.m. (EDT) and broadcast live on ABC -- the race will also be held on Enge's 29th birthday.

Tomas Enge:

"I did my rookie test at Chicagoland last year but I do not think it is any major advantage compared to the track where I have never driven. The maximum speed is not what you are looking at the rookie test and racing in the pack is obviously very different. Chicago reminds me a bit of Texas and Kentucky where we were very quick, so hopefully we will have the same form during the weekend. I scored some good results in the last few races and improved my best IRL finish and it would not be bad to continue the streak."

Tomas Scheckter:

"For sure, Chicagoland is a great track. It's tight racing and hopefully we can keep the Pennzoil Chevy up front. Panther always does well on the 1.5-mile ovals and Chicago is a place where this team has won a few races. I know our setup will be strong and Chevrolet's package has been awesome all season. We struggled at Sonoma a few weeks ago, but I know we'll be able to forget about that once we get rolling tomorrow."

Buddy Lazier:

"It's great to be back in the car again and I can't thank Panther enough for the opportunity they've given me this season. It's also great that Pennzoil let us honor the American Red Cross this weekend with the paint scheme on the racecar. Chicagoland is a fun track, where you need plenty of horsepower and handling. You can't win here without plenty of both and that's what we're going to be looking for this weekend."

Panther Tracks: Pennzoil Panther Race Engineer David Cripps has engineered three drivers to Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year awards: Lyn St. James (1992), Christian Fittipaldi (1995), Tora Takagi (2003), and Cripps now works with the 2002 co-Rookie of the Year Tomas Scheckter ..... Tomas Scheckter was named Indianapolis 500 co-Rookie of the Year in 2002, and scored his first IndyCar Series victory in the same year at Michigan International Raceway ... Panther has a total of 15 IndyCar Series victories .... Panther Racing won back-to-back IRL Championships in 2001 & 2002 and the Menards Infiniti Pro Series Championship in 2003 ... A total of eleven drivers have started a race for Panther: Sam Hornish Jr. (44), Tomas Scheckter (30), Scott Goodyear (30), Townsend Bell (11), Tomas Enge (10), Mark Taylor (6), Buddy Lazier (5), Dave Steele (2), Dan Wheldon (2), Billy Boat (1) and Robby McGehee (1).

-www.pantherracing.com

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