ACCIDENT ENDS SHECKTER'S CHARGE IN IRL SEASON-OPENING RACE MIAMI, March 6, 2005 -- Tomas Scheckter was on a mission at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the first race of the 2005 IRL IndyCar Series. Starting on the pole in Pennzoil Panther Racing's...
ACCIDENT ENDS SHECKTER'S CHARGE IN IRL SEASON-OPENING RACE
MIAMI, March 6, 2005 -- Tomas Scheckter was on a mission at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the first race of the 2005 IRL IndyCar Series. Starting on the pole in Pennzoil Panther Racing's Chevrolet Dallara, Scheckter proved that he could lead laps, run at the front, and contend for the victory with Chevy power. Scheckter's race was cut short when he was caught up in an eight-car accident on a restart on Lap 159 in the 200-lap event. Scheckter was unhurt, but he was fuming after the incident, which was triggered when Kosuke Matsuura went three-wide in an outside passing attempt and spun into the racing lane.
"The 55 came outside of me on the restart and lost it," said Scheckter, referring to Matsuura's car. "It's really unnecessary. People's lives are at stake, and this guy takes out half the field."
Scheckter led 13 laps and was running in the lead pack before the accident.
"We had perfect weekend until then," Scheckter declared. "Everybody at Chevrolet has worked hard, and I was taking it easy in the race. We were just getting ready to crank up the fuel mixture and make a run for the win."
The disappointment in the Panther Racing pit was palpable after the driver, engine, car, and crew had performed flawlessly for three-quarters of the race.
"It's clear that Chevrolet was competitive, but the outcome confirmed what we already knew," said GM Racing IRL program manager Joe Negri. "When you have two cars in the field, any incident or misfortune can take you out of the race. Accidents happen, gearboxes fail, and that's all part of racing.
"We're leaving this race disappointed with the final result, but we're very encouraged by the outstanding performance of the Chevy Indy V-8 and the entire Panther Racing team this weekend," said Negri. "The competition knows Chevy's racing to win, and we'll be ready for the next event in Phoenix."
Tomas Enge's Rockstar Chevrolet Dallara was sidelined by a gearbox problem that hampered the talented Czech driver at the drop of the green flag.
"I had to stay in fifth gear all the time at one point and I was losing so much speed on the backstretch," Enge explained. "We had a great time in the Rockstar Chevy on Friday and yesterday, and Chevy has improved so much that I know we will run up front very often this year.
"In racing, you have days like this," he said. "We will be back."
The second round of the 17-race IndyCar Series will be contested on Phoenix International Raceway's challenging 1-mile oval on March 19. The race will be televised live on ABC at 3 p.m. ET.