Three venerable names in Indy Racing League IndyCar Series history are teaming up for the 89th running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race this May 29th. Panther Racing, the most successful IndyCar Series team in its ten-year run with two titles...
Three venerable names in Indy Racing League IndyCar Series history are teaming up for the 89th running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race this May 29th.
Panther Racing, the most successful IndyCar Series team in its ten-year run with two titles and more wins than any other entity is teaming with the Byrd Brothers, Jonathan Byrd II and David Byrd to form Byrd Brothers/Panther Racing.
This newly formed team will campaign the #95 Jonathan Byrd's Cafeteria Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone entry for 1996 Indy 500 winner and 2000 Indy Racing League champion Buddy Lazier, the team revealed this morning.
Jonathan Byrd Cafeteria returns to the Greatest Spectacle in Racing as a primary car sponsor after sitting out the past three events. Others giving their support to Lazier's entry include Indianapolis AM radio station ESPN950, WHMB TV 40 and US Foodservice.
Lazier is one of the more accomplished IndyCar Series racers in recent Indianapolis Motor Speedway history. The 37-year-old won Indy in '96 less than three months after a testing crash at Phoenix International Raceway left the Vail, CO resident with serious back and pelvis injuries.
In 12 starts on the Brickyard's 2.5-mile oval, Lazier has five top-seven results (including his win); two runner-up finishes in 1998 and 2000, fourth place in 1997 and seven in 1999. He's led 70 laps at Indy and, in the 2004 event ran as high as 11th place before fuel system difficulties sidelined his efforts.
Outside Indy, Lazier has recorded eight IRL victories - tying him for second with Scott Sharp on the all-time list - and ranks seventh on the League's lap-leader chart with 1027 laps led.
"After you get a win at Indianapolis, all you can think about is winning it again," Lazier admitted. "Now that I'm going back to Indy with the resources of Byrd Brothers/Panther Racing, with Chevy power and two great teammates, I believe I can make it back to Victory Lane in the 500 this year."
Lazier's two teammates - and his chosen partners - have impressive credentials of their own: Tomas Scheckter, driver of the #4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevy was 2002 Rookie of the Year at the Brickyard and has led 148 laps in only three starts at IMS; teammate Tomas Enge is a candidate for that same honor in 2005; spotter/driver coach Tom Sneva won the 1983 Indianapolis 500.
"Everyone at Panther Racing is excited to have the Byrd Brothers join us for this year's Indianapolis 500," acknowledged team co-owner John Barnes. "The Byrd family has a long history at the Brickyard and, with this partnership we are proud to bring them back to the Speedway."
Jonathan Byrd II realizes, "Panther is such a fantastic racing team. My brother and I consider it an absolutely privilege to be able to join with them to form Byrd Brothers/Panther Racing and to return to Indianapolis for another shot at winning the 500."
Brother David added, "Just to be able to have a car at the Indy 500 is a dream come true for me. With Buddy Lazier as the driver of that car, we believe the dream of winning the Indy 500 is absolutely within reach."
Panther Racing, on the south side of Indianapolis has a 40,000-foot-plus workshop that can handle a third entry for Indy, co-owner Doug Boles noted. "We want nothing more than to win the Indianapolis 500," Boles declared. "With Buddy Lazier behind the wheel of our Byrd Brothers/Panther Racing car, in addition to Panther Racing drivers Tomas Scheckter and Tomas Enge, we feel like we have a tremendous opportunity to accomplish our goal" of winning that Borg Warner Trophy.