IRL: Michigan: Panther Racing race report

Lazier Finishes 6th; Bell 15th BROOKLYN, Mich. - Pennzoil Panther driver Tomas Scheckter brought home his second consecutive podium finish Sunday in the Firestone Indy 400 at Michigan International Speedway. Fellow Pennzoil driver Buddy Lazier...

Lazier Finishes 6th; Bell 15th

BROOKLYN, Mich. - Pennzoil Panther driver Tomas Scheckter brought home his second consecutive podium finish Sunday in the Firestone Indy 400 at Michigan International Speedway. Fellow Pennzoil driver Buddy Lazier was just a few spots behind his teammate, and recorded another solid sixth-place finish. Townsend Bell, despite running in the Top Five for a large portion of the race, was involved in an accident late and finished 15th.

Scheckter started second and was strong early until a pit speed violation forced the IndyCar Series veteran into a drive-through penalty. It was after a yellow flag on Lap 121 that Tomas was able to catch back up with the lead pack and make his move. After a tight battle with two Andretti Green Racing cars late in the event, Scheckter settled on a third-place finish -- his second consecutive. Tomas has also registered Top Five finishes in five of his last six starts, all of which account for his best finishes at a member of the team.

Tomas remains in eighth position in the 2005 IndyCar Series points' standing, just one point behind Scott Sharp in seventh, and eleven points behind Helio Castroneves in sixth. He led two laps during the race.

With a sixth-place finish Lazier recorded his career-best result at MIS. He started in the sixth spot and bided his time during the long green-flag portion of the race. Buddy climbed from 10th up to fifth by the final caution period of the race, and was battling for the lead during the final eight-lap shootout. Lazier nearly snuck into the Top Five but couldn't get his nose ahead of Sam Hornish, Jr. at the line.

Bell was especially impressive in his one-race return to Panther. He qualified 10th but climbed all the way into third position by just the 16th lap of the race. Having not started an IndyCar race since Texas in 2004, Bell was fighting in the Top Five for the majority of the day, until an accident on Lap 180 ended what would have been a great finish. Townsend set the fastest lap of the race at 219.475 mph, 32.8055 seconds.

This One's for Jerry

Panther Racing honored teammate Jerry Oberle this weekend after Oberle suffered a fatal heart attack Thursday en route to the race. Oberle, 68, had been with the team for nearly three years. Panther crewmen wore green & black armbands in honor of their teammate, and each of the team's three cars had a decal with Oberle's name on it.

The IndyCar Series will experience a rare weekend off before heading to the 1.5-mile oval at Kentucky Speedway on Aug. 14th.

Tomas Scheckter:

"For sure, this was another great run for us. We got caught out with a pit speed limiter problem early in the race. We got lucky and finally caught a yellow that we needed very badly. The end of the race was crazy though. I was sideways, I was under-steering, but everybody had the same problems. Still, we've collected a lot more points. Chevrolet and Pennzoil gave us yet another great car. Everyone put in a great effort on this crew and hung in there. For sure, I would have liked a win, but I can't complain about scoring another Top Three."

Buddy Lazier:

"It was another great racecar. I really felt like I had a car that could have won the race. I was trying to help my teammate to the front late and it's great to see another strong finish for both of us. In a way I'm disappointed that we came home sixth because our Pennzoil car was handling so well out there. At the end we didn't have any problems marching right to the front. Chevrolet showed everybody how powerful they are and we're looking forward to getting back out there."

Townsend Bell:

"(Sam) Hornish came down on me once on the front stretch and then as we came around he decided to come down again and take all the air off my nose. He wasn't doing me any favors up there, but I really couldn't see what was happening in front of him. When the car started to slip I caught it, caught it, and caught it again. I thought we might get it to catch but it was too late. The car really danced back and forth on me. I hate to see such a great run in our RockStar Chevy end that way. "

-pr-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Buddy Lazier , Scott Sharp , Helio Castroneves , Townsend Bell , Sam Hornis
Teams Panther Racing