INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- In three starts at Richmond International Raceway, Panther Racing has never left the track with a finish outside the Top Five. Those three races include a victory -- in 2002 -- and a second place finish in 2001. Last year the...
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- In three starts at Richmond International Raceway, Panther Racing has never left the track with a finish outside the Top Five. Those three races include a victory -- in 2002 -- and a second place finish in 2001. Last year the Panther Pack started its Chevrolet in third and finished in fourth. Richmond was also the site of Tomas Scheckter's first career Top Five finish, when he finished fourth during his rookie season in 2002. Aside from Scheckter's dominating victory at Michigan in his first Indy Racing League season, the Richmond finish was his best effort of the year. He finished 18th at the SunTrust Indy Challenge last season.
"I'm really looking forward to racing under the lights at Richmond International Raceway this Saturday night," Scheckter said. "It's the shortest track we race on, just three-quarters of a mile, so the action is tight, fast and exciting. I think it's one of the best, most exciting races of the year for our fans as well. I remember the great crowd last year cheering and yelling for their favorites. Richmond fans know their racing. They've made some changes to the track including repaving it since we raced there last year, and I hear it's even faster with our cars than it was. The Pennzoil Panther guys are ready to go. We had a very good test in Milwaukee, which is only a mile long, and we made some good gains on chassis set-up there so we're looking forward to a great race in Richmond."
Panther Racing hopes for more good things in 2004 as they prepare to turn the tides on a frustrating start to the season. RIR's short 0.75-mile oval is the shortest track on the IRL schedule, but the bullring provides fans with some of the closest and most exciting racing of the year. Menards/Johns Manville driver Mark Taylor currently stands in second place in the running for Bombardier Rookie of the Year behind Kosuke Matsuura. This will be Taylor's first experience on Richmond's short track, but the 2003 Menards Pro Series Champion is excited to get back on the track and turn his season around.
"This will be my first experience there, but I'm ready to get back out and start racing again," Taylor said. "The season so far has been frustrating for myself and everybody on the Menards/Johns Manville crew. But we have work to do, so nobody is dragging their feet or hanging their heads. The test last week at Milwaukee was a big help in getting comfortable with the shorter tracks again. It's been tough so far, and while we haven't had the finishes we'd like this season, the guys at Panther have proven we can run at the front with the best cars in the league. So now it's a matter of putting it all together and finishing races."
CARTER TO RUN SILVER CROWN RACE AT RICHMOND
Panther Silver Crown driver Dane Carter will join Tomas Scheckter and Mark Taylor this weekend behind the wheel of a racecar. The son of spotter/driver coach Pancho Carter is set to compete in the Silver Crown race at Richmond International Raceway on Saturday evening. Carter has been impressive this season as Panther Racing competes in the USAC Weld Racing Silver Crown Series for the first time. Carter qualified second at Memphis Motorsports Park and the Indiana State Fairgrounds in May, but ran into trouble at both races and finished 24th and 21st, respectively. Carter's best finish of the season came at Phoenix International Raceway, when he finished 12th in the Copper World Classic. In 2002, Carter took home a third place finish in the Silver Crown race at Richmond, and is looking forward to returning to the re-paved surface.
"I ran well there a few years ago when I finished third, and I'm excited to go back," Carter said. "I've heard the track is a lot quicker now that it's been repaved. It used to be that if you got out of the groove at Richmond it was like running on ice, and now there should be a lot more room to race. It's always been a fun place to run, and I look forward to a good finish."