Panther Set For 100th Start INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- As Panther Racing prepares to take the green flag in the Indy Racing League for the 99th and 100th times at the Michigan Indy 400 this Sunday, the team looks to capitalize on past success at the...
Panther Set For 100th Start
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- As Panther Racing prepares to take the green flag in the Indy Racing League for the 99th and 100th times at the Michigan Indy 400 this Sunday, the team looks to capitalize on past success at the two-mile oval. It was just a year ago when Sam Hornish, Jr. and the Pennzoil Panther Chevrolet just missed out on victory at Michigan International Speedway, when Alex Barron slipped in front of the yellow #4 to steal the victory. The photo finish was the sixth closest 1-2 finish in league history. The yellow #4 was hounded all afternoon that day by Tomas Scheckter, who has now combined forces with Panther Racing to help propel their Chevrolet into Victory Lane.
Scheckter has been the pole-sitter during both his starts at MIS, and is gunning for three consecutive starts from the point. Tomas' first IRL victory was in 2002 at MIS, when he dominated from the pole, leading 122 laps en route to victory. He led 42 laps in 2003 before his third place finish, giving him a total of 164 laps led at the two-mile oval. Panther Racing has led 136 laps in two starts there, and finished 7th in 2002.
Rookie Townsend Bell has been impressive in his three starts in the Indy Racing League. After a fire bottle failure in his first start at Kansas City, the 29-year-old American has run with the leaders in each of the last two races. He finished 5th at Nashville -- matching the best finish of the season for Panther Racing -- and climbed to a sixth place finish in Milwaukee last week, after starting 12th.
Both Scheckter and Bell participated in a Chevrolet test at Michigan the week before the Firestone Indy 200 at Nashville Superspeedway.
"I enjoy racing at Michigan, it's a place where I've had a lot of success in the past. I expect the same results this year, and I know Panther is going to give me a good car. Everybody on the Pennzoil Panther crew is ready to get things right and Michigan is a place where we've both performed well in the past. The Chevy engine test is really going to help us heading into the weekend."
"I was in Michigan once before, back in 2000 while I was racing Indy Lights. It's a nice track, reminds me a lot of Fontana. We had a good Chevrolet test up there a few weeks ago, and I'm interested to see how we match up with the other teams, especially in qualifying trim. We're looking to bring home another good finish for the Panther guys."
Panther Tracks: 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.