IRL: St. Pete: Panther Racing Saturday report

Enge Makes Shootout, Starts 5th; Scheckter 8th St. Petersburg, Fla. -- IndyCar Series driver Tomas Enge was the only rookie to make the "Firestone Fast Six" Saturday on the streets of St. Pete, and will start the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg ...

Enge Makes Shootout, Starts 5th; Scheckter 8th

St. Petersburg, Fla. -- IndyCar Series driver Tomas Enge was the only rookie to make the "Firestone Fast Six" Saturday on the streets of St. Pete, and will start the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in fifth. Enge - who had the third best time during the first one-lap qualification run - participated in the ten-minute shootout with drivers from the Andretti Green and Penske stables, and landed a starting spot on the inside of the third row.

Tomas Scheckter just missed the Firestone Fast Six, and will start eighth in the race tomorrow. Scheckter's qualification speed was 101.538 mph, 1:03.8182 seconds, and he will start from the outside of Row Four. The IndyCar Series veteran has improved during each session this weekend and is confident in his chances to finish Sunday in victory lane.

Enge's best speed of 102.426 mph, 1:03.2650 seconds, came during his initial qualification run. He joined eventual pole-sitter Bryan Herta, Helio Castroneves, Tony Kanaan, Dario Franchitti and former Panther Racing driver Sam Hornish, Jr. in the Firestone Fast Six shootout. Enge was unable to better his time in the shootout as his Chevrolet didn't have as much grip as during his first run.

Enge has been the top rookie qualifier in all three events this season -- including two Top Fives - and is currently tied for third in the in the Bombardier Rookie of the Year standings with Ryan Briscoe. Scheckter was the pole winner at the season-opening Homestead event, and qualified fourth for the race at Phoenix two weeks ago.

The Grand Prix of St. Petersburg starts at 3:45 p.m. tomorrow and will be broadcast live on ESPN. There will be a short warm-up practice session before the race starts from 9-9:30 a.m.

Tomas Enge:

"We were able to put together our best lap of the weekend when it counted today. The team didn't make any changes before the shootout, I just couldn't get grip like before in the first qualification run. It's going to be a good race tomorrow, and if we work hard, we should end up on the podium. We were working on our race setup until today, and even this morning I couldn't get a clean lap. The RockStar guys are great to me, and everything was much better today in our Chevy. We are up front, where we want to be, and I think it's going to be a great race tomorrow."

Tomas Scheckter:

"I left three tenths out there on the track after I made some mistakes early in my qualification run. The problem is, when you do that, you're thinking about it the rest of the lap and that's never good. I'm not worried because the Chevy motor is great and the Pennzoil crew is working really hard for me. We can be better tomorrow in the race, but we've already made several improvements since yesterday."

Fans of the Race Look Toward California

As part of Panther Racing's "Fan Tour 2005" the team will select two "Fans of the Race" for each event, and the fans will have a decal of their name placed on the dash of their respective racecar. While the fans are "riding with" either Scheckter or Enge, they are eligible for prizes based on the performance of their driver. If either driver wins the race, then the "Fan of the Race" for that event will receive roundtrip airfare, hotel accommodations and pits passes for the final race of the year at California Speedway.

The Fans of the Race for this weekend are Denise Farris (Tomas Scheckter) from Katy, Texas, and Peggy Ellwood (Tomas Enge), who is from Saluda, North Carolina.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Tomas Enge , Helio Castroneves , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Ryan Briscoe , Sam Hornis
Teams Panther Racing