Panther Looks to Rebound at Twin Ring Motegi MOTEGI, Japan -- Panther Racing returns to Japan and the Twin Ring Motegi 1.5-mile racetrack this weekend in preparation for the Indy Japan 300 on Saturday. As the only Chevrolet-powered team this ...
Panther Looks to Rebound at Twin Ring Motegi
MOTEGI, Japan -- Panther Racing returns to Japan and the Twin Ring Motegi 1.5-mile racetrack this weekend in preparation for the Indy Japan 300 on Saturday. As the only Chevrolet-powered team this season, Panther looks to put on a strong performance at the only overseas race on the IndyCar Series schedule.
IndyCar Series veteran Tomas Scheckter looks to rebound from a tough end to the St. Petersburg race, when a bent suspension caused him to slide into the tire barriers with 20 laps to go. He finished in 17th - despite starting 8th - in the first road course event in series' history. Tomas looks to duplicate his effort in Homestead earlier this season, when he put his Pennzoil Panther #4 on the pole. Scheckter finished 13th last season in Motegi.
Tomas Enge has been the top rookie qualifier in all three events this season -- including two Top Fives. This will be his first start at Twin Ring Motegi, and Saturday will be his sixth career start in the Indy Racing League. During the St. Petersburg event three weeks ago, Enge led his first four career IndyCar Series laps during the later stages of the race. A late incident with Sam Hornish, Jr. ended his day in 16th. Enge qualified for the "Firestone Fast Six" for the St. Pete event, and started in 5th.
Practice starts Thursday morning, with qualifications at 12:30 p.m. (local Japan time) on Friday. The Bridgestone Indy Japan 300 will start on Saturday at 1 p.m.
"Motegi reminds me a little of Phoenix where there is one ideal line and two different corners; one is flat out and the other you have to back off a little. The difference is Motegi is much faster and the lap speed is much quicker. For the Japanese this race is a big deal because two of the three engine manufacturers are from Japan. I'm sure Panther will be very strong this weekend as we have been in the first three races, but my main goal is to finish for these guys. I hope we've already thrown all our bad luck away. I like Japan itself, and the diversity is something special for the series, much like the road courses.
"I'm ready to get back in my Pennzoil racecar and put together a solid finish for the Panther guys. Chevrolet has given us amazing engines every weekend that we've raced, and for different reasons we haven't been there at the finish. We're going to change that this weekend. I like the Motegi racetrack, and we had a gearbox problem last year that kept up out of the Top Five. I know the guys are working hard, and that work is going to pay off for all of us really soon."
Panther Tracks: Panther is the only Chevrolet-powered team in the IndyCar Series .... Enge competed in three Formula One races in 2001, including the United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where he finished 14th .... Tomas Scheckter was named Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year in 2002, and scored his first IndyCar Series victory in the same year at Michigan International Raceway ... 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 55 Top Tens .... The team's 2,461 laps led is second only to Team Menard .... 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 ten drivers have started a race for Panther: Sam Hornish Jr. (44), Scott Goodyear (30), Tomas Scheckter (19), Townsend Bell (10), Mark Taylor (6), Tomas Enge (3), Dave Steele (2), Dan Wheldon (2), Billy Boat (1) and Robby McGehee (1).
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