IRL: Nashville: Panther Racing preview

Buddy Lazier Expands Panther's Arsenal to Three at Nashville NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Former Indianapolis 500 winner and IndyCar Series Champion Buddy Lazier joins Panther Racing regulars Tomas Scheckter and Tomas Enge this weekend at Nashville ...

Buddy Lazier Expands Panther's Arsenal to Three at Nashville

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Former Indianapolis 500 winner and IndyCar Series Champion Buddy Lazier joins Panther Racing regulars Tomas Scheckter and Tomas Enge this weekend at Nashville Superspeedway for Saturday's Firestone Indy 200. Lazier, who raced to a 5th-place finish in the 89th Indianapolis 500 this May behind the wheel of the No. 95 Chevrolet, will start his second race for the team this weekend.

Panther regulars Enge and Scheckter are in the middle of their strongest string of races as members of the former back-to-back IndyCar Series Championship team. The last three starts for Scheckter -- a victory in Texas and two top fives -- account for his three best finishes with the team, while Enge, whose 7th-place finish at Richmond and 11th at Kansas are his two IndyCar Series career-highs.

Lazier won the inaugural race at Nashville in 2001, after starting 6th and leading 71 laps in the race. His 5th in the Indianapolis 500 marked Panther Racing's best finish at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway -- it was also Buddy's first Top Five finish since Kentucky in 2002. Lazier was victorious in the Indianapolis 500 in 1996 and won the IndyCar Series Championship in 2000.

Scheckter currently ranks second in the IndyCar Series in laps led, with 242, trailing only former Panther driver Dan Wheldon, who has paced 414 laps this season. Scheckter had led the field in four of the eight races so far in 2005. Tomas currently ranks 9th in the chase for the IndyCar Series Championship, less than 30 points out of fourth place.

Townsend Bell finished 5th last season in Panther's No. 2 Chevrolet, just his second start with the team, which equaled the best finish for the team in all of 2004. Panther had led laps in every Nashville start until last season. The team's best finish at the 1.33-mile oval was third in 2002 with Sam Hornish, Jr.

Buddy Lazier:

"Well, it's a concrete racetrack and I remember we used to run at Dover, which is another concrete track. It seems like the concrete tracks have a little different characteristics than the paved tracks. It's a bumpy track and it's extremely fast for how short it is. You know, good cars will find their way to the front there. It's a combination of handling/horsepower track. You really can't do without good handling and you can't do without horsepower there. It just takes a little of everything."

Tomas Scheckter:

"Nashville has never been one of my best tracks, I have to admit. But with the package Chevrolet has brought to our Pennzoil Platinum team this year, I'm very motivated going into every race. It's an honor to have Buddy (Lazier) as a teammate and it will be great to have him at Nashville. We can sit down, work together and make sure we get it right for the race. The entire team has been doing well the last month and we've really got a tight package, and that's helped me. If we're in a position where we can't win, we'll collect what we can. When we're in a position where we can win, we'll make sure we take advantage of it."

Tomas Enge:

"It is great that I have scored my first season podium at Monza (in the European Le Mans Series). It is never pleasant when you are quick but bad luck strikes so often and you can not get a good result. I hope that I have broken it there and my first IRL Top Three is coming soon. I have never been to Nashville but it was the same at some other tracks and we were quick there. My collaboration with the RockStar crew has been better and better and I also better understand the specifics of the oval racing. Chevy have not eased up their development effort, so we have all ingredients for success."

Panther Tracks: Pennzoil Panther Race Engineer David Cripps has engineered three drivers to Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year awards: Lyn St. James (1992), Christian Fittipaldi (1995), Tora Takagi (2003), and Cripps now works with the 2002 co-Rookie of the Year Tomas Scheckter ..... Tomas Scheckter was named Indianapolis 500 co-Rookie of the Year in 2002, and scored his first IndyCar Series victory in the same year at Michigan International Raceway ... Panther has a total of 15 IndyCar Series victories .... Panther Racing won back-to-back IRL Championships in 2001 & 2002 and the Menards Infiniti Pro Series Championship in 2003 ... A total of eleven drivers have started a race for Panther: Sam Hornish Jr. (44), Scott Goodyear (30), Tomas Scheckter (24), Townsend Bell (10), Tomas Enge (7), Mark Taylor (6), Dave Steele (2), Dan Wheldon (2), Buddy Lazier (1), Billy Boat (1) and Robby McGehee (1).

-www.pantherracing.com

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Mark Taylor , Tomas Enge , Buddy Lazier , Billy Boat , Scott Goodyear , Christian Fittipaldi , Tora Takagi , Townsend Bell , Dan Wheldon , Lyn St. James , Sam Hornish Jr. , Sam Hornis
Teams Panther Racing