Scheckter Grabs Third Pole Position of Season; Enge 11th Lazier Starts Third, Confirmed for Kentucky and Chicagoland Events NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Pennzoil Panther driver Tomas Scheckter grabbed his third pole of the season Friday at Nashville ...
Scheckter Grabs Third Pole Position of Season; Enge 11th
Lazier Starts Third, Confirmed for Kentucky and Chicagoland Events
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Pennzoil Panther driver Tomas Scheckter grabbed his third pole of the season Friday at Nashville Superspeedway, after rain washed out qualifications. The starting field for the Firestone Indy 200 was determined by practice times from earlier in the day, giving Buddy Lazier the 3rd position on the inside of the second row. IndyCar Series rookie Tomas Enge will start 11th.
In addition to his impressive starting position, Lazier was confirmed for the upcoming races at Kentucky Speedway and Chicagoland Speedway in the No. 95 Pennzoil/Byrd's/American Sentry Guard Chevrolet. Panther co-owner Doug Boles made the announcement in a press conference following the cancellation of today's qualifications -- and Lazier will continue to be supported by Pennzoil, Jonathan Byrd's Cafeteria and American Sentry Guard.
For Scheckter, Saturday marked his 8th career pole position, which places him 4th on the Indy Racing League's all-time list. It also marks the most poles Panther Racing has ever won in one season -- eclipsing Sam Hornish, Jr., who had two poles each in both 2001 & 2002. This is Panther's ninth career pole position.
Scheckter's top lap was 203.117 mph, 23.0409 seconds. The last time he started from the point -- the June event at Texas Motor Speedway -- he won in dominant fashion, leading 119 of a possible 200 laps.
Lazier, in just his second start with Panther Racing, will take the green flag with his best starting position since Homestead in 2001. His quick lap was 202.927 mph, 23.0625 seconds. Buddy was victorious in the inaugural race at Nashville Superspeedway in 2001. He finished 5th in the Indianapolis 500 this year, which was Panther's best finish at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Enge fought with the handling of his No. 2 RockStar Chevy in both sessions Friday, and will start 11th with a top speed of 202.345 mph, 23.1288 seconds. He started in 12th two weeks ago in Kansas and finished 11th. Both of his last two races have accounted for his career-best in the IndyCar Series.
"To be honest, I didn't like this track until a few minutes ago when they told me qualifications were cancelled and I was on pole. But seriously, I'm happy about this pole, it's a tough track, but we were quick and had a chance no matter what happened with the rain. What more can you say about Chevrolet? They've really blown us away this season and they race to win every single weekend. For some reason this is a difficult track for me, I like the feeling of having a lot of grip immediately, and having three and four lanes. The pit stops are going to be massively important tomorrow, and your in- and out-laps will also be important so you don't lose positions."
"I'm excited to be starting towards the front. The Chevrolet has proven their worth and really hit their stride with the entire team. It's a great time to be a member of Panther Racing and I can't thank them enough for the opportunity they've given me this season. At Nashville you need a combination of handling and horsepower, and I know with (Chief Engineer) Andy Brown and the rest of my crew, we'll have both. I'm fortunate to have a team and teammates that can help me perform."
"With the help from Chevy and Pennzoil, we're going to be able to race another two races. Chicago and Kentucky are two of my favorite tracks, and I've won a few at Kentucky already. I've spent many years chasing that yellow Pennzoil Panther car, and now it feels great to be sitting in it."
"Today was a pretty hard day for me, as a rookie here, and we had a bit of a handling problem in the first practice. We didn't have enough time running today as we would have liked, but still I was very much looking forward to qualifications. We still have the final practice today, and I know the RockStar Chevy will be strong. And I'm sure - as on the other tracks - I will go with my confidence on this special track. In the last practice at some other tracks I found how to race on the limit with all the other cars out there and this will be no different. We are looking much better for tomorrow's race than we were today in practice."