IRL: Fontana: Panther Racing race report

FONTANA, Calif. -- Panther Racing drivers Tomas Scheckter and Tomas Enge finished right behind one another at California Speedway Sunday, with respective seventh- and eighth-place results in the Toyota Indy 400. Scheckter led a race-high 80...

FONTANA, Calif. -- Panther Racing drivers Tomas Scheckter and Tomas Enge finished right behind one another at California Speedway Sunday, with respective seventh- and eighth-place results in the Toyota Indy 400.

Scheckter led a race-high 80 laps, and paced the field on four different occasions before settling on a seventh-place finish. Enge battled back from an early pit speed violation, and crossed the finish line just behind his Panther teammate in eighth.

"I think we missed a little on the restart gears, which completely hurt us at the end of the race today," Scheckter said. "That, combined with the fact I had a major push off turn two, I couldn't catch back up to the lead guys. I know that if I could have been up with the leaders we could have passed them."

Scheckter made his fifth start from the front row this afternoon, but was unable to capture his seventh Top Five result of the year. He stormed into the lead by just the fourth lap of the race and held onto it until the first round of pit stops on the 36th-lap. The Pennzoil team ran into trouble during their Lap 124 pit stop. Scheckter entered the pits as the leader, but because the car was out of fuel, the No. 4 had to be restarted in the pits, costing Scheckter several key seconds.

"I wanted to win so badly this weekend for Panther, Pennzoil and the guys at Chevrolet," Scheckter said. "But sometimes it doesn't work out and we'll all move on and remember all the great parts of this season."

With this result, Scheckter captured the 9th position in the 2005 IndyCar Series standings.

Enge also made a fast climb after starting in 11th, moving quickly up to fifth by Lap 18. The IndyCar rookie's chance at his best oval finish of the year was hampered when he suffered a pit speed violation after a pit stop on Lap 83. Enge served a drive-thru penalty on Lap 88 and fought off leader Dario Franchitti to stay on the lead lap.

"I was so lucky today, but it was a great run. I'm glad we could finish the last race for all the RockStar guys. Obviously, we were looking for a better finish and we knew we would be strong today. We were unlucky with a penalty (pit speed violation) but then lucky because we managed not to lose a lap."

After barely missing an accident between Jaques Lazier and Danica Patrick, Enge managed to slip past rival Helio Castroneves at the finish line for his eighth-place finish.

"That (accident) happened right ahead of me and I was so lucky to avoid it," Enge said. "I saw them tangle and was watching the road ahead of me when all I saw was smoke. It was great to work with Panther and Chevrolet this season, and I just hope that we can continue into the future."

Enge finished 16th in the IndyCar Series points championship and second in the Rookie of the Year despite missing three races due to injury.

-pr-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Tomas Enge , Helio Castroneves , Jaques Lazier  , Dario Franchitti
Teams Panther Racing