Pennzoil Panther Racing Looks to Vegas after Difficult Lone Star 500 Indianapolis -- In the midst of the devastatingly oppressive Texas temperatures, Scott Goodyear and Dave Steele's cars were just two of many casualties in the Pep Boys Indy ...
Pennzoil Panther Racing Looks to Vegas after Difficult Lone Star 500
Indianapolis -- In the midst of the devastatingly oppressive Texas temperatures, Scott Goodyear and Dave Steele's cars were just two of many casualties in the Pep Boys Indy Racing League Lone Star 500 at Texas Motor Speedway last weekend. Amidst high hopes and outstanding performances in practice and pre-race testing, both Pennzoil Panther drivers were caught up in mishaps that put them out of the race before the 75th lap.
During lap 40, while running in seventh position and closing in on sixth, Panther rookie Steele's right rear tire exploded, forcing him into a backwards slide that ended in the front stretch wall. Steele walked away unharmed.
Meanwhile, Pennzoil Panther's primary driver Goodyear was troubled with a loose-handling racecar, dropping him from seventh to 16th in the early going. During the Panther Pack's first pit stop, the team adjusted the front wings and changed all four tires, allowing Goodyear to start his climb back toward the front. Unfortunately, a blown clutch put Goodyear out of the race for good on lap 71.
"The car was extremely loose at the beginning of the race but we made significant gains on the drivability during the first pit stop," Goodyear said. "I think we were going to have a fast racecar as the day progressed."
Team manager and co-owner John Barnes wasn't sure what caused the clutch failure but agreed with Goodyear that the car was progressively getting better with each change.
"The clutch just gave up. When we took the clutch out of the car, it literally fell out in 50 pieces," said Barnes. "We were addressing the car's handling woes. The way the race ended up, we could have very well finished on the podium."
The Texas heat was a significant factor in the running of Sunday's Lone Star 500, the second of two Indy Racing League races run at the superspeedway this year. With air temperatures on the track hovering around 103 degrees and track temperatures in the 130s, tires, drivers and crews were put to the test. By the midway point in the race, nearly half the field had been taken out.
Goodyear said he was most disappointed about how the finish impacts the team's chances at the IRL championship. "I suspect we are done as far as the championship goes. Now we can just focus on winning the race at Las Vegas."
Las Vegas may be a good opportunity for Goodyear to earn that illusive first Pep Boys IRL victory. Goodyear finished second at last year's Las Vegas race and practiced earlier this year quicker than the track record. Goodyear and the Pennzoil Panther "Pack" will compete in the season finale at Las Vegas Motor Speedway October 9, 10 and 11.
Steele Visits Infield -- Pennzoil Panther rookie Dave Steele took the opportunity of some down time between the driver's meeting and the introductions prior to the race to visit the many fans camped in the turn-two infield of the Texas Motor Speedway. Following an appearance with many customers and clients of Panther Racing sponsors Pennzoil and Northern Telecom (Nortel), Steele pushed Scott Goodyear's showcar deep into the masses of RV's, motorcoaches and tents in the turn two infield area. Steele sat on the sidepod of the showcar where he signed autographs, lifted kids into the seat of the showcar and posed for pictures for over 45 minutes.
"I appreciate the opportunity to race at this level and I appreciate the support of these great fans. I wanted to do something to show my appreciation for their support of the Pep Boys IRL. This league and Pennzoil have given me a great opportunity to learn from an outstanding driver like Scott Goodyear and compete for a quality team like Panther," Steele said.