Indianapolis, IN - Pennzoil Panther Racing will again provide the standouts of the United States Auto Club (USAC) a chance to earn their Indy Racing League competition licenses. This marks the 2nd year Panther Racing has provided the crew and the car for the test that will take place on December 20 and 21st at Texas Motor Speedway.
Encouraged by primary sponsor Pennzoil to give America’s open wheel talent a chance to showcase their skills to IRL team owners, Panther Racing will provide a test for one driver in each of USAC's National racing series. The participants selected for the '99 test are Dave Darland, Stoops Freightliner Sprint Car Champion; Russ Gamester, Coors Light Silver Bullet series runner-up; and Jerry Coons, MCI Worldcom Midget series third place finisher.
The tests will be consistent with other IRL rookie tests and consist of three to four phases for each participating driver. The drivers must complete approximately 10 laps per phase in specified speed ranges while under the watchful eyes and direction of IRL officials and the Panther Racing team. Each driver will complete approximately 50-60 laps on the 1.5-mile oval by the end of the test.
"Pennzoil Panther Racing is once again excited to provide these talented drivers a chance to earn licenses to compete in the IRL," said John Barnes, Team Manager and co-owner of Pennzoil Panther Racing. "Speed is not the issue in this test. What we want to see is that they can listen to instruction, provide accurate feedback to the crew on the performance of the car and be consistent in their on track performance.” Barnes noted that top speeds during the test will be in the 200 - 210 mph range
Before strapping into the Pennzoil Panther G-Force, each driver will undergo an extensive track and car orientation with IRL advisor Johnny Rutherford and IRL racing director Brian Barnhart. Through this orientation, drivers will learn valuable insight into the track, driving processes and receive some oneon-one time with Rutherford and Barnhart.
Each driver has already spent time in the Panther Racing shop working with the Panther “Pack” to be fitted in the car, to make sure mirrors, pedal positions and other safety and comfort issues have been addressed prior to leaving for Texas Motor Speedway.