IRL: Fontana: Panther Racing race report

Bell Brings Home Ninth Place Finish FONTANA, Calif. -- Townsend Bell did his best to put on a show for his hometown crowd at California Speedway on Sunday. The 29-year-old American, who is from nearby San Luis Obispo, utilized a...

Bell Brings Home Ninth Place Finish

FONTANA, Calif. -- Townsend Bell did his best to put on a show for his hometown crowd at California Speedway on Sunday. The 29-year-old American, who is from nearby San Luis Obispo, utilized a dramatic last-lap pass to catapult into a ninth place finish. Pennzoil driver Tomas Scheckter came home with a 15th-place finish. This is Townsend's fourth Top Ten finish in nine Indy Racing League starts, and his best finish in the last four races. His best result of the season was a fifth at Nashville earlier in the season, which was just his second start in the league.

Bell started the race in 16th, and made the climb to 7th by Lap 21. The car started to fade a bit, and Bell and Scott Dixon fought for position in the Top Ten. The Menards/Johns Manville Chevrolet was strong again by the end of the race, and on a last-lap restart, Townsend took ninth place away from Mark Taylor with a beautiful high-line pass. He was the highest finishing Chevrolet in the Toyota Indy 400.

For Pennzoil Panther driver Tomas Scheckter, the race resulted in more inexplicable misfortune. Tomas started in 12th, but experienced some problems in the mapping of his car at the drop of the green flag. While the crew tried to fix the problem, the yellow #4 car fell all the way to the back of the pack. But Scheckter had been there before, and once the crew found a fuel setting that would work, he started to yet again make a climb to the front. With just under 10 laps remaining in the contest, and a 7th place finish in his sights, Tomas Enge spun out in front of Scheckter -- leaving the Panther driver with nowhere to go. He was collected in Enge's accident and finished 15th.

Townsend Bell:

"We made up some positions by the finish, but in the middle of the race we were really slipping. I could hang with the leaders when I was in a big pack, but we just couldn't keep up when we were running alone. Chevy made some big improvements this weekend and I look forward to what we'll have for Texas. (On last lap pass of Mark Taylor for 9th) He got me on the restart before, and I really wanted to make up that position. We really got beat going into (turn) one, then got a really good run on the backstretch. I came off of four really high and was hoping nobody would put me into the fence, and then we got him at the line. It was a good day for all the Menards/Johns Manville crew and we look forward to another solid result in Texas.

Tomas Scheckter:

"There was some kind of problem with the knobs on my dash and we fell all the way back at the start. The Panther guys finally figured something out and we got a fuel setting where we could race. But the problem was with the restarts and we couldn't get the setting right to get a jump on anybody. (On the crash) I just had nowhere to go. The car in front of me spun in the middle of (turn) four and he took me with him. It was so close to the finish I thought we were going to come away with our best result in awhile, but we'll see what happens down in Texas with the Pennzoil Panther guys."

-www.pantherracing.com

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Mark Taylor , Tomas Enge , Scott Dixon , Townsend Bell
Teams Panther Racing