Panther Chevrolets Make Strong Showing with 5th and 11th- Place Results KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Panther Racing had two Chevrolets capable of winning Sunday afternoon in the Argent Mortgage 300 at Kansas Speedway, and eventually came away with 5th-...
Panther Chevrolets Make Strong Showing with 5th and 11th- Place Results
KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Panther Racing had two Chevrolets capable of winning Sunday afternoon in the Argent Mortgage 300 at Kansas Speedway, and eventually came away with 5th- and 11th-place finishes. Tomas Scheckter led 63 laps during the event and collected his third consecutive Top Five finish. Tomas Enge ran has high as second and battled for the lead during the race, but a mishap on the final pit stop landed the IndyCar rookie with a 11th-place result.
Tomas Scheckter, who started from the pole during his first start at Kansas in 2002, wasted no time in reaching the front of the field. After qualifying in 4th, Scheckter took the lead on Lap Eight and didn't let go until the first round of pit stops. Scheckter remained up front despite his Pennzoil Platinum car going out of balance late and an ensuing vibration that hampered the team's efforts. Despite the difficulties, Scheckter managed to pull out another Top Five finish for the Pennzoil Panther team -- his third in a row.
With another strong result, Scheckter remained 9th in the IndyCar Series Championship points standings, and is only 24 points out of the Top Five. He has also led laps in four of the eight races thus far this season.
Enge, who started in 12th place, consistently ran in the Top Five. He and Scheckter were running 1st and 4th by the 28th lap of the race -- and then reached the 2nd and 3rd positions by Lap 94. The two teammates ran different fuel strategies late, and Enge was able to reach second place by Lap 140 and at times went two-wide for the lead. During his last pit stop on Lap 177 the wheel nut fell off the right-front tire, costing the RockStar crew valuable seconds under green flag conditions.
Panther finished second in its first two starts at Kansas Speedway, which came during the team's championship seasons in 2001 and 2002. Sunday's results marks the team's best finish at Kansas since the 2002 season.
The IndyCar Series resumes in two weeks at Nashville Superspeedway, where Panther's attack will expand to three cars and be rejoined by 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Lazier. Lazier finished 5th in the 89th Running of the Indianapolis 500 this season for Panther, which marked the best finish in the team's history at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It has been confirmed that Buddy - who also won the 2000 IndyCar Series title - will drive a Panther Chevrolet at Nashville and Michigan, with other races quickly becoming strong possibilities.
"Wow, that was some great racing today, for sure. At times it was a bit hairy out there. There were some times where I'd have a huge run on guys in our Chevy, and they would race with their mirrors and block my runs. Still, this was another great day for the Pennzoil Platinum guys. My entire crew did a wonderful job all day long. We ran into a head-wind late in the race that hurt the way we had our gears set up and then we fought with some vibration after we spun a tire on the rim. We might not have had the car to win, but we kept at it and came away with another solid top five finish."
"This race was great fun. All the time today I was fighting in the front and racing with the guys in the top five. After each restart I was patient, and didn't want to take too many risks. I'm still getting experience on these types of tracks, and because today was so windy it made it difficult for everybody, and especially for the rookies. I had a great car all day. Right now I feel like our time is coming, and a solid result in our RockStar Chevy is right around the corner."