IRL: Mark Taylor passes ROP for Indy 500

Mark Taylor Completes Rookie Orientation INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Mark Taylor is one step closer to his debut in the Indianapolis 500. The 26-year-old rookie made quick work of the Rookie Orientation Program at Indianapolis Motor Speedway this...

Mark Taylor Completes Rookie Orientation

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Mark Taylor is one step closer to his debut in the Indianapolis 500. The 26-year-old rookie made quick work of the Rookie Orientation Program at Indianapolis Motor Speedway this morning, passing all four phases in his #2 Menards/Johns Manville Chevrolet before lunch. The track did not open until shortly after 9:30 a.m. because of cool track temperatures.

"It's good to get the rookie test out of the way," Taylor said. "The Menards/Johns Manville car felt great, and it's good to get to run around Indy. It didn't take us much time to get up to speed, and we didn't have any trouble working through the stages of the rookie test. The important thing is to get confidence in the car and the track, and then work at taking downforce out and having some longer runs."

Taylor was complemented by team and IRL officials for his remarkable consistency in speed and running a solid line. His fastest lap was 212.920 mph, which he ran on Lap 68 of the 92 Laps he completed. Both Panther Racing spotters Pancho Carter (Turn One) and 1983 Indianapolis 500 winner Tom Sneva (Turn Three) were watching from overhead to help get the rookie adjusted to the historic 2.5-mile oval.

"Mark looked fine out there today," Sneva, who spotted for Taylor during the Bridgestone Indy Japan 300, said. "It's a matter of him getting laps and experience at this racetrack. His line looked as good or better than everybody else out there."

"That's the great thing with the rookie test, not only having Pancho and Tom looking after me, but legends like Johnny Rutherford, Rick Mears and Al Unser giving guidelines on what to do when you're going around the track. I can't think of anybody that knows this place better than those guys. I just try to use their experience as much as possible while learning a great racetrack like Indianapolis."

Taylor finished third in the inaugural Freedom 100 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2003 after starting on the outside of Row One. He was champion of the Menards Pro Series last year, winning seven of the 11 races in which he competed. Taylor and the Panther Fulmar Pro Team set series records for victories, laps led (425) and starts from the pole (four). The Indianapolis 500 will be Taylor's fourth career start in the Indy Racing League.

"The day went well and we got right up to speed," Panther Racing co-owner John Barnes said. "We were able to accomplish what we wanted before the wind started to pick up. Mark has progressed nicely for us so far this season, and we're going to see some good things from this kid once May rolls around."

Taylor will join Panther Racing teammate Tomas Scheckter during IRL testing sessions Wednesday and Thursday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

-pr-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Mark Taylor , Tom Sneva , Pancho Carter , John Barnes , Johnny Rutherford , Al Unser
Teams Panther Racing