FORT WORTH, Texas, Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2000 - Three USAC standouts will get another chance to take the Indy Racing League rookie test Dec. 6 at Texas Motor Speedway with Pennzoil Panther Racing.
Tracy Hines, Derek Davidson and Kasey Kahne were scheduled to test Nov. 8-9 in the team's Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Oldsmobile/Firestone at the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway, but cold and rainy conditions forced a postponement.
Pennzoil Panther's driver in the 2001 Indy Racing Northern Light Series, Sam Hornish Jr., and Indy Racing League officials will oversee the tests on the 1.5-mile, high-banked oval at Texas and offer the rookie drivers advice. "By allowing these rookies to turn their first laps in an Indy car during private testing, there is less pressure and fewer distractions than what they would encounter during a normal Indy Racing Northern Light Series race weekend," said John Barnes, Panther Racing co-owner and team manager. The tests are part of a driver development program sponsored by Pennzoil and Panther Racing in which top USAC drivers are rewarded with Indy Racing rookie tests. Hines, 28, from New Castle, Ind., clinched the USAC Coors Light Silver Bullet Series title by finishing second to Brian Tyler in the season-ending race Oct. 29 at Memphis, Tenn. Hines finished the season with 603 points while Dave Darland was second with 574. @!Davidson, 29, from Lafayette, Ind., finished fifth in the final USAC Stoops Freightliner Sprint Car Series point standings this season. But three of the four drivers who finished ahead of him - Tony Elliott, Jay Drake, J.J. Yeley - already have passed their Indy Racing rookie test. Hines also finished ahead of Davidson. @!Kahne, 20, from Enumclaw, Wash., won the USAC MCI WorldCom Midget Car Series title this season. Kahne also earned the Oliver Trucking Rookie of the Year Award for his 10th-place finish in the Coors Light Silver Bullet Series point standings this year.