IRL: Indy 500: Panther Racing Opening Day summary

Chevy Powers Panther Towards Indy 500 Goal INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - As the Indianapolis Motor Speedway opened its gates to fans yesterday, Panther Racing and its drivers Tomas Scheckter and Mark Taylor have one thing in mind -- driving their ...

Chevy Powers Panther Towards Indy 500 Goal

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - As the Indianapolis Motor Speedway opened its gates to fans yesterday, Panther Racing and its drivers Tomas Scheckter and Mark Taylor have one thing in mind -- driving their Chevrolets all the way to Victory Lane for a cool glass of milk.

As the winningest team in the history of the Indy Racing League, Panther Racing and Chevrolet - winner of more motorsports championships than any other engine manufacturer - are ready to race. With the power displayed by the new 3.0-liter Chevy Indy V-8 during testing last month, combined with the talent behind the wheel of both the Pennzoil Panther and Menards/Johns Manville Dallaras this month, the Panther Pack is roaring into May.

Combined practice results from the first day of testing at IMS showed Chevrolet with six of the ten fastest cars on the track. On the second day it was more of the same, as Tomas Scheckter was the fastest Chevy, running a lap speed of 219.125 mph. Taylor finished 10th quick on the first day, but was even quicker on Day Two, turning a lap of 217.245 mph.

"I have enjoyed my time in the Indy Racing League and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has really become my favorite race track," said Scheckter. "Panther Racing has proven over the last several years that they produce cars that handle really well through the entire 500 miles and Chevrolet has brought a new 3.0-liter Chevy Indy V-8 that ran flawlessly in our tests at IMS. I am focused on making sure I continue to run up front and lead laps at Indianapolis -- except this year I want to lead the last one and give Chevrolet the honor of being the first 3.0-liter engine to win in the IRL."

Scheckter has led a remarkable 148 laps in just two starts in the Indianapolis 500, more than any other active IRL driver. The 23-year-old Pennzoil Panther driver finished 4th at the Speedway last year, and was named Bank One Co-Rookie of the Year with Alex Barron -- another Chevy driver - in 2002.

On Opening Day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, it was another solid performance for Chevrolet and Panther Racing. Scheckter ran the fourth quickest lap of the day at 218.308 mph, and Taylor was just behind his teammate in sixth with a lap speed of 217.613 mph. Chevrolet drivers claimed three of the top seven spots during the first day of practice.

The new 3.0-liter Chevy Indy V-8 is a modification of the same engine that helped Panther Racing dominate the last half of the 2003 season. Chevrolet and Panther won three of those six races, led 389 laps, and entered the last race of the season with a legitimate chance to win an unprecedented third consecutive IRL Championship.

"We're right where we need to be heading into May," Panther Racing co-owner John Barnes said. "Everybody here at Panther Racing and the hard working people at Chevrolet are all committed to one goal, and that's winning the Indianapolis 500. It's that kind of commitment -- commitment to a quality product and commitment to a competitive product -- that makes Chevrolet such a great American brand and a great partner in IndyCar racing."

"Our Chevrolet engine showed a lot of power last week," IRL rookie Mark Taylor, the 2003 Menards Pro Series Champion who finished third in the inaugural Freedom 100 last year at IMS, said. "The car felt great both during the rookie test and the two days we ran for open testing. I feel like this is going to be a great month for all of us at Panther. Our Chevrolet is just as quick as anybody on the track."

Panther Racing is launching its re-designed website (www.pantherracing.com) Monday in conjunction with the opening of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the 88th Indianapolis 500. The site, designed by Cinemagic, will include new audio/video sections, in addition to a completely new page devoted to everyone on the Panther Pack. The new website will be updated daily from the racetrack with news and photos for fans, and will keep the Panther faithful updated on Chevy drivers Tomas Scheckter and Mark Taylor. The site will also feature news releases about Panther's USAC Silver Crown driver Dane Carter.

Practice at Indianapolis Motor Speedway will be held from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. MBNA Pole Day is Saturday, May 15th, and qualifying starts at 11 a.m.

-pr-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Mark Taylor , Alex Barron , Dane Carter , John Barnes
Teams Panther Racing