Panther Prepares for the Mile WEST ALLIS, Wis. -- Panther Racing looks to make its mark on the Milwaukee Mile this weekend in the Menards A.J. Foyt Indy 225. This is the first season the Indy Racing League has raced at the Mile, but...
Panther Prepares for the Mile
WEST ALLIS, Wis. -- Panther Racing looks to make its mark on the Milwaukee Mile this weekend in the Menards A.J. Foyt Indy 225. This is the first season the Indy Racing League has raced at the Mile, but both drivers Tomas Scheckter and Townsend Bell have turned their fair share of laps on the relatively flat one-mile oval. Scheckter tested in Milwaukee during the fall and again for the IRL open test last month. Bell competed there twice during his time in Indy Lights and again when he raced in CART. In 2001 at Milwaukee, the year Bell was the Indy Lights Champion, he lapped the entire field on his way to victory.
Panther continued its run of good qualifications last week at Nashville Superspeedway, where Scheckter qualified 10th with Townsend right behind him in 12th. Scheckter has qualified tenth or better in all but one race this season. During the race Tomas was moving up the field until he got into the marbles just past the mid-point in the race, and his #4 Pennzoil Panther Chevrolet hit the outside retaining wall just past Turn Two. Bell was more fortunate, as lightning quick pit stops from the Menards/Johns Manville crew helped the IRL rookie climb up the grid and into the Top Five. He maneuvered his way through several close calls, and finished fifth. Townsend's Top Five finish matches the best result of the season for Panther -- equaling Scheckter's fifth place finish at Homestead -- and is the best overall finish of the season for the Menards/Johns Manville car.
"I enjoyed both times we tested in Milwaukee. It's an interesting track, and there's a lot of history there, and we look forward to being a part of it. The Panther guys are ready for a good result, and we feel like all the work from the people at Chevrolet is going to pay off. There were some struggles in the first half of the season, but we expect things to turn around for us starting this weekend.
"Milwaukee is a fun place to go. I raced there twice in Indy Lights, and then in CART I raced there as well. I don't think the track's changed a whole lot. We run maximum downforce there with the IRL package, so that makes it a lot of fun too, because the speeds are pretty high and you're driving the car quite a bit. Plus, we really want to do well because Menards will have a lot of friends at the race, so we want to get them a good result."
Panther Tracks: The Menards A.J. Foyt Indy 225 will be the 97th and 98th starts, respectively, for Panther Racing, and the team will eclipse the 100-start plateau during the Michigan race next week ..... Tomas Scheckter's first ever driving coach, Kieth Fourie of Cape Town, South Africa, will be in Milwaukee this weekend to watch the race. Fourie -- who taught Tomas everything from what it meant to be "tight" and "loose" in his go-kart, also attended the Nashville race. Scheckter and Fourie worked together for almost 10 years .... Scheckter and Bell will both appear at the Menards store in West Bend, Wis. -- 575 West Paradise Dr., roughly 30 miles north west of Milwaukee - tonight from 4 -- 7 p.m. They will be joined by the kids division of the IRL Fan Experience .... Panther spotters Tom Sneva and Pancho Carter will take part in the "Cruisin' with the Legends" Parade down Greenfield Ave. and into the infield at the Milwaukee Mile. The parade starts at 6 p.m. ... Sneva is the 1983 Indianapolis 500 winner and Carter was the pole-sitter in 1985. Both open-wheel legends have raced numerous times at the Milwaukee Mile.... Panther Racing is the winningest team in the history of the IRL, and the only team to win back-to-back league championships.
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