Panther Racing & Tomas Scheckter WIN Bombardier Learjet 500k FORT WORTH, Tex. -- Panther Racing driver Tomas Scheckter scored a dominant victory Saturday night in the Bombardier Learjet 500k at Texas Motor Speedway. Scheckter, who has been ...
Panther Racing & Tomas Scheckter WIN Bombardier Learjet 500k
FORT WORTH, Tex. -- Panther Racing driver Tomas Scheckter scored a dominant victory Saturday night in the Bombardier Learjet 500k at Texas Motor Speedway. Scheckter, who has been winless since his rookie season, ended one of the most storied runs of bad luck and misfortune by edging out former Panther driver Sam Hornish, Jr. at the finish line by 0.0534 seconds.
The victory was the 10th-closest in the history of the Indy Racing League.
The win is Panther's 15th career victory, and the team regains its title as winningest team in IndyCar Series history. In addition, it was the team's fifth at Texas Motor Speedway, making them the winningest team at the 1.5-mile oval. This is Scheckter's first victory since 2002 at Michigan International Speedway, when he was with Cheever Racing.
Scheckter dominated the contest, and led a race-high 119 laps. He passed Tony Kanaan on Lap 191 to regain the lead for the final time, and held off Hornish until the thrilling finish. Scheckter gave Panther its first victory since the California race in 2003, and he became the all-time lap leader at TMS. The win also shot Scheckter up to 9th in the chase for the 2005 IndyCar Series Championship.
Tomas Enge qualified second for the race, and was the fastest driver during the final day of practice yesterday. However, while running strong during Saturday's race and electrical failure forced him to pull into the pits to make changes. The RockStar team fell several laps down and despite running as quick as the leaders, Enge had to settle on a 19th-place finish.
Enge was once again the top rookie qualifier, which is the fourth time this season. Enge also equaled the best start for a rookie, tying Danica Patrick's effort at Japan earlier this year. Saturday was his third start from inside the Top 5, and the 28-year-old has started inside the Top Ten at every race he has qualified for this season.
Enge's best career IndyCar Series finish came at TMS last season, when he finished 13th with Patrick Racing.
Panther Racing has a total of five victories at Texas Motor Speedway -- two each by Scott Goodyear (Texas I, 1999 & Texas II, 2000); Sam Hornish, Jr. (Texas II, 2001 & Texas II, 2002) and tonight's victory by Scheckter.
"It's been tough before this victory tonight. You honestly start to have doubts about your ability to win races, but this win is unbelievable for our team. Having Sam (Hornish) behind us really made us nervous at the end because he's won so many close races. But I have to thank him also, because he helped pushed me by Scott Sharp and then by Tony Kanaan for the lead. I got tons of horsepower from Chevrolet this weekend, but I got some extra horsepower from Sam Hornish during that race. And to do this for Chevrolet is huge, and we're also in Pennzoil's backyard, so it's a major win for everybody. This is just what we needed, what the team did during this run and the way everybody stuck behind me was great. I told the guys as long as they got me out in the Top Five during the race I'll win, and that's just what they did. Now we want to ride this wave and start winning these races more often. Chevy has proven they're the engine to beat, and I'm so proud of those guys for what they've done for us this season."
"I'm very disappointed at this point. We had a major electrical problem and got many laps down pretty early in the race. But know that we've got a strong car and a strong engine from Chevy and we know everything will be well. When we got back out I was able to pass people, and I could get by people all night when I needed to. We could run with the leaders if I needed, so I'm happy about that. It's great that Tomas was able to win the race and that's great for this entire team."
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 ...... Buddy Lazier was the 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner ..... Tomas Scheckter was named Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year in 2002, and scored his first IndyCar Series victory in the same year at Michigan International Raceway ... Since joining the league in 1998, Panther has 34 podium finishes, 45 Top Fives and 58 Top Tens.... Panther Racing won back-to-back IRL Championships in 2001 & 2002, 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 (22), Townsend Bell (10), Mark Taylor (6), Tomas Enge (5), Dave Steele (2), Dan Wheldon (2), Buddy Lazier (1), Billy Boat (1) and Robby McGehee (1).
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