IRL: Michigan: Panther Racing Friday report

Panther Quick in Michigan Practice BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Both Panther Racing drivers found themselves at the top of the speed chart Friday at Michigan International Raceway. Tomas Scheckter was the fastest car on the track during the ...

Panther Quick in Michigan Practice

BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Both Panther Racing drivers found themselves at the top of the speed chart Friday at Michigan International Raceway. Tomas Scheckter was the fastest car on the track during the morning session, when he blew through a lap at 214.038 mph, 33.6386 seconds. The Pennzoil Panther Chevrolet was the fastest car on the track by nearly 0.5 seconds. Townsend Bell was third quick in the morning session, at 213.516 mph, 33.7211 seconds.

Scheckter was even faster in the afternoon session, picking up a few tenths at 214.277 mph, making the yellow #4 the third fastest car on the track today. During qualifications tomorrow, Tomas will be gunning for his third consecutive pole position at MIS. He won here as a rookie in 2002 and finished 3rd last year. Bell was involved in a minor incident during the afternoon session, when he spun coming out of Turn Two and made contact with the wall. There was minor damage to the left side of the Menards/Johns Manville car and Bell was uninjured in the incident. He has been cleared to drive tomorrow. He set the sixth quickest lap of the day during the morning session.

Tomas Scheckter:

"I think Chevy has really been working hard, and we still have to carry this through the weekend, but the car had a lot of power today. Chevy has always been dedicated to winning. It's still a long weekend, and we want to carry this momentum into qualifying and the race on Sunday. Panther Racing almost won this race last year, so we're hoping we can get our first victory of the season on Sunday."

Townsend Bell:

"The car felt great, we were quick in the morning session and working through some things this afternoon. (On the incident) Not really sure what happened. Something might have broke on the car. We're just not sure right now."

Panther Tracks: John Paul, Jr. is spotting this weekend for Pennzoil Panther driver Tomas Scheckter. Paul was victorious at Michigan during an IndyCar race in 1989, and also scored a victory in Texas in 1998 .... Townsend Bell has finished as the top Chevrolet driver in each of his last two races ... Bell has one start at Michigan International Speedway, in 2000 during the Indy Lights series. Townsend was Indy Lights Rookie of the Year in 2000, and the series champion in 2001 ... Panther Racing has been involved in six of the Top Ten closest finishes in IRL history -- winning five ... Since joining the league in 1998, Panther has 33 podium finishes, 43 Top Fives and 54 Top Tens ... In 98 IRL starts, the Panther Pack has led laps in 44 races, just short of 45 percent ... The team's 2,448 laps led is second only to Team Menard ... If both Panther Chevrolets finish the race, it will mark over 25,000 miles completed in Panther history .... Panther Racing won back-to-back IRL Championships in 2001 & 2002, the Menards Infiniti Pro Series Championship in 2003, and is the league leader in victories for both series: IRL (14 wins) and IPS (7 wins) ... A total of nine drivers have started a race for Panther: Sam Hornish Jr. (44), Scott Goodyear (30), Tomas Scheckter (9), Mark Taylor (6), Townsend Bell (3), Dave Steele (2), Dan Wheldon (2), Billy Boat (1) and Robby McGehee (1) ... Tomas Scheckter has qualified in the Top Ten in eight of the nine races this season. His best finish cam at Homestead-Miami Speedway, where he took 5th place.

-www.pantherracing.com

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Mark Taylor , Robby McGehee , Billy Boat , Scott Goodyear , Townsend Bell , Dan Wheldon , Dave Steele , John Paul
Teams Panther Racing