IRL: St. Pete: Chevy race report

Accidents End Chevy's Run in St. Petersburg Scheckter and Enge Encounter Trouble in IRL's First Street Race ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., April 3, 2005 - A picture-perfect day in St. Petersburg started well but ended in disappointment for Chevrolet ...

Accidents End Chevy's Run in St. Petersburg
Scheckter and Enge Encounter Trouble in IRL's First Street Race

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla., April 3, 2005 - A picture-perfect day in St. Petersburg started well but ended in disappointment for Chevrolet drivers Tomas Scheckter and Tomas Enge. The two Panther Racing teammates ran at the front of the pack in the IRL IndyCar Series' first street race, but both ended their day early due to accidents on the tight confines of the 1.8-mile temporary circuit. Twelve of the 21 starters were running at the conclusion of the 100-lap race through the streets of the bayside city.

Enge finished 16th in the RockStar Chevrolet after tangling with Sam Hornish Jr. in Turn 4 on the 85th lap. Scheckter encountered the tire wall in Turn 8 in a single-car incident on Lap 77, relegating the Pennzoil Chevrolet to 17th place in the results. Dan Wheldon won the IRL's first non-oval event in a Honda Dallara.

Enge started fifth and Scheckter eighth on the grid. Scheckter immediately gained two spots on the opening lap, while Enge hooked up in the five-car lead pack. Problems on Enge's first pit stop on the 16th lap moved the Czech to 17th, while quick work in the pits vaulted Scheckter to sixth. As teams pursued a variety of pit strategies, the two Chevys conserved fuel and avoided trouble through the race's middle stages. On Lap 64, Scheckter's patience paid off when he emerged in second place after a round of pit stops. Enge took the lead for the first time in his IndyCar career on the 76th lap, leading four laps before pitting for the final time.

"That race car was just unbelievable today," said Enge. "The handling was amazing and the engine was strong. We had to take our last pit stop towards the end and we were going to work our RockStar car into a solid finish. We had some problems in the pits and so we had to fight our way back up all day. After the restart I was trying to make a move to pick up as many positions as possible. Hornish and Matsuura were dicing, and both cars moved down to the right and I held my line on the left. We were already in the braking zone when he moved into my line and I was pretty close to him, so I had no chance to avoid the accident."

"I was trying to tuck in behind (race leader Ryan) Briscoe as tightly as possible before our last pit stop," said Scheckter. "At one point I brushed the wall and bent some of the suspension. I didn't realize how bad the suspension was until we got back on the track. There was some play in the wheel, and with a full load of fuel and new tires, I had my hands full.

"It was a great weekend from everybody on the Pennzoil team," Scheckter noted. "Chevrolet is going to get some great results soon with the great engines they're giving us."

The Indy Japan 300, the fourth round of the 17-race IndyCar Series, will be contested at Twin Ring Motegi on April 30. The race will be televised live on ESPN2 at midnight EDT.

-gm racing-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Tomas Enge , Dan Wheldon
Teams Panther Racing