IRL: Chicagoland: Panther Racing race report

Bell, Scheckter Fall Victim to Messy Race in Chicagoland JOLIET, Ill. -- Tomas Scheckter has started from 13th on three different occasions and picked his way through the field to the front, but was even better Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway. It...

Bell, Scheckter Fall Victim to Messy Race in Chicagoland

JOLIET, Ill. -- Tomas Scheckter has started from 13th on three different occasions and picked his way through the field to the front, but was even better Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway. It took him just 18 laps to climb from the very back of the pack and into the Top Five. Townsend Bell joined his veteran teammate, as the Panther duo were mainstays in the top pack of cars. Despite their efforts, both drivers fell victim to a messy race in the Delphi Indy 300. Townsend finished 22nd after making light contact with the Turn Three wall and Scheckter also hit the outside retaining wall on the backstretch in a separate incident and finished 19th.

Scheckter gave the fans in Joliet their money's worth, after starting 22nd because of an engine change on Saturday. It didn't take him any time to put the Pennzoil Panther #4 up front. The third-year Indy Racing League veteran sliced and diced his way into 5th in just under 20 laps of racing. Despite his impressive performance, Tomas made light contact with the wall on the backstretch after Vitor Meira and Jaques Lazier touched wheels in front of him. Scheckter was caught in Lazier's dirty air, and the loss of downforce caused him to hit the wall and end the race in 19th.

Scott Sharp collided with Townsend for the second consecutive race, sending the Menards/Johns Manville crew packing yet again. Bell - who started in 12th - had a run on Sharp as they approached the third turn and moved to the outside of the #8 car. He had his left-front wheel alongside the right-rear of Sharp, when Sharp moved up and put Townsend into the wall. The incident damaged the suspension on the blue #2, and Townsend was unable to continue in the race. He finished 22nd.

Tomas Scheckter:

"Chevy gave us another great engine. We had to change the motor out yesterday, but it didn't even matter because we were so quick out there. The Pennzoil car moved all the way from last to the front of the field in about 18 laps. I felt like our luck had turned the corner today. I was running great and (Vitor) Meira comes by and tags Lazier right in front of me. I got lost in his dirty air, and without the downforce I couldn't keep the car out of the wall. There's still two races left, and we'll get it right."

Townsend Bell:

"Well, Scott Sharp got us again. I don't know if his spotter is watching somebody else or what, but this is the second week in the row that he's decided to end our day. This is a long race, and there's five lanes on the racetrack and these guys can't figure it out. Sharp's always moving all over the place and he just moved right up on me as we went into (turn) three. Tommy just crashed because another couple guys couldn't figure it out. The Menards/Johns Manville car was just great today, and this is really a shame."

Panther Tracks: Both Pennzoil Panther and Menards/Johns Manville Chevrolets ran a decal honoring Indianapolis Police Department Officer "Jake" Laird, who was killed in the line of duty last month in Indianapolis. The decal is a replica of Laird's badge, and is being sold as a sticker to raise money for the Kaylee Laird Trust Fund. Kaylee is the seven-year-old daughter of Officer Laird, and all proceeds from the sales go to the trust fund .... Townsend was Indy Lights Rookie of the Year in 2000, and the series champion in 2001 ... Panther Racing has been involved in six of the Top Ten closest finishes in IRL history -- winning five ... Since joining the league in 1998, Panther has 33 podium finishes, 43 Top Fives and 55 Top Tens .... The team's 2,457 laps led is second only to Team Menard .... Panther Racing won back-to-back IRL Championships in 2001 & 2002, the Menards Infiniti Pro Series Championship in 2003, and is the league leader in victories for both series: IRL (14 wins) and IPS (7 wins) ... A total of nine drivers have started a race for Panther: Sam Hornish Jr. (44), Scott Goodyear (30), Tomas Scheckter (14), Townsend Bell (8), Mark Taylor (6), Dave Steele (2), Dan Wheldon (2), Billy Boat (1) and Robby McGehee (1).

-pr-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Mark Taylor , Robby McGehee , Scott Sharp , Billy Boat , Scott Goodyear , Jaques Lazier  , Townsend Bell , Dan Wheldon , Dave Steele , Sam Hornish Jr. , Vitor Meira
Teams Panther Racing