Panther Blazes in Qualifications RICHMOND, Va. -- Panther Racing will start Saturday's SunTrust Indy Challenge the same way they've finished in all three starts on the 0.75-mile oval at Richmond International Raceway -- inside the Top Five. With...
Panther Blazes in Qualifications
RICHMOND, Va. -- Panther Racing will start Saturday's SunTrust Indy Challenge the same way they've finished in all three starts on the 0.75-mile oval at Richmond International Raceway -- inside the Top Five. With the two fastest Chevrolet qualifying runs, Panther ripped out its best qualifying effort of the season. Mark Taylor will start the race from third, marking the best start for a rookie this season in the Indy Racing League. His qualifying time of 170.683 mph, 15.8188 seconds, was nearly four miles per hour faster than his best practice time from the afternoon practice session. The other half of the Panther tandem, Tomas Scheckter, was just a blink behind his rookie teammate, at 170.592 mph, 15.8272 seconds. Scheckter will start the race Saturday night from the fifth position.
"Starting third is great for the guys at Panther Racing, they deserve this," Taylor said. "But at the same time, everybody here knows that we came to Richmond to finish well in the race. We've been fast all season, but running in the Top Five during the race doesn't do anybody any good when you don't finish. That's our goal tomorrow. We've qualified the car at the front, and now it's time to keep it up there all night, and put this team back on top. It's time to prove this Menards/Johns Manville team is one of the best out there, and that starts tomorrow."
Panther has performed well in its three starts at RIR, including a victory in 2002 and a second place finish in 2001. Panther won the IRL Points Championship in both of those seasons. In 2003, Sam Hornish Jr. finished in fourth place while driving the Pennzoil Panther Chevrolet. Richmond was the site of Scheckter's first career Top Five finish, during his rookie season in 2002. He finished 18th at the SunTrust Indy Challenge last year.
"Our qualification run was good," Scheckter said. "I was flat out for the whole lap, so obviously there wasn't much more that I could get out of the car. Chevy deserves big thanks for all the work that they've done this season, it's nice to see us back up front. A lot of people thought the chips were down for Chevrolet earlier this year, but they've kept working hard and our results today prove it. It's a good day for me, Mark (Taylor), and everybody at Panther Racing. Now we want to make sure we have a great racecar tomorrow and finish both these cars at the front."