RICHMOND, Va. -- The trip to Richmond International Raceway turned into a forgettable weekend in just one lap for everybody at Panther Racing. A Lap 222 accident involving Mark Taylor turned devastating for the Panther Pack when Tomas Scheckter --...
RICHMOND, Va. -- The trip to Richmond International Raceway turned into a forgettable weekend in just one lap for everybody at Panther Racing. A Lap 222 accident involving Mark Taylor turned devastating for the Panther Pack when Tomas Scheckter -- who was fighting his way back into the Top Five at the time -- was collected in the accident. The fatal lap ended the day for the Panther duo, landing Scheckter in 17th and Taylor in the 18th position. The end was especially disappointing because the start of the SunTrust Indy Challenge was the best of the season for Panther Racing.
Taylor started in third, which was the best qualifying position of a rookie in the Indy Racing League this season. Scheckter joined his rookie teammate atop the grid, qualifying in the fifth position. The race when south for Taylor early, as he was plagued with handling problems. Despite several adjustments in the pits, the 2003 Menards Pro Series Champion couldn't get the car working for him. Then, on lap 222, Taylor made contact with Dario Franchitti and slid into the outside retaining wall on the outside of the second turn.
Scheckter was more fortunate at the start, as he quickly jumped up the grid and stayed right at the top. Scheckter battled, and following his final pit stop, continued his climb towards the front. While he was gaining on the leaders, he attempted to avoid the cars involved in Taylor's accident. Adrian Fernandez -- who was also trying to avoid the incident - moved up the track and into the side of the Pennzoil Panther Chevrolet. The damage to Scheckter's car was beyond repair, and both Panther Chevrolets headed back to the garage before the conclusion of the race.
"It's really too bad that the race ended this way. Everybody at Pennzoil and Chevrolet deserved a Top Five finish, and it looked like we were going to get it. That's racing. The car was great all night and I was ready to make our final push to the front, we just never were able to prove what we had left. (On the Hornish incident) We were having a great battle. I was keeping the car as low as I could and I think we touched wheels. That's just the type of thing that happens when we're racing this close."
"It was a struggle tonight. We'd been having handling problems in the car all day, and we were just trying to sort everything out. I'm not sure what happened. I didn't know where the car behind me was. It's unfortunate, we really wanted to get to the finish. The Menards/Johns Manville guys couldn't have worked any harder this weekend. Now it's time to turn things around at Kansas."