After placing fifth in one of the most competitive Indianapolis 500's in recent history, Buddy Lazier has been retained for a minimum of two added Indy Racing League IndyCar Series races with two-time series champs Panther Racing. Lazier will...
After placing fifth in one of the most competitive Indianapolis 500's in recent history, Buddy Lazier has been retained for a minimum of two added Indy Racing League IndyCar Series races with two-time series champs Panther Racing.
Lazier will plot a Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone entry - number yet to be determined and commercial partners as yet unannounced - at the nighttime Nashville Superspeedway contest on July 16th where Lazier recorded a victory in 2001 and in Chevrolet's back yard in Michigan on the 31st.
According to team co-owner Doug Boles, "We knew we wanted to do more races with Buddy after Indy. His talent is unbelievable, particularly for a guy who hasn't been in a car since May of 2004," he said.
"We're hoping to do more races with Buddy before the end of the season but we've got to get some financial backing to make it happen," Boles indicated. "We (the five owners of Panther Racing) have committed our own funds in this endeavor and Chevrolet has added their support."
Lazier has eight IndyCar Series victories on his exemplary resume and was the 1996 Indianapolis 500 winner in addition to taking the championship in 2000, all with Hemelgarn Racing.
"Buddy has won a lot of races for us over the years," acknowledged Chevrolet director of racing Joe Negri. "It was a no-brainer to include him in the Chevrolet family at Indianapolis and we hope to get more wins together before the year is up."
GM Racing has announced it will leave the Indy Racing League after the end of the 17-race 2005 season but Panther Racing, the sole team using Chevrolet power is hoping good results may change the giant automaker's mind. "Never say never," Negri shrugged but did not embellish.
Lazier, of course is "thrilled by this opportunity because I know Panther Racing is one of the best in the sport. Their five team owners have a passion for this business and their four or five engineers work so well together," as he discovered during the month of May.
"It seems," Lazier reflected, "that as competitive as the IRL is these days, multi-car teams are a big advantage. This is one of the best opportunities I could hope for." The veteran has taken IndyCar Series rookie Tomas Enge under his wing and has assisted him in adjusting to the League and, in particular to the intricacies of Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
"Tomas isn't a rookie in racing and he's a huge student of the sport. He studies it all," Lazier explained. "If there were ten books on driving at Texas Motor Speedway this weekend, I'd guarantee he'd read them all! I really like his attitude and his synergy with this team."
As for his own future with the Panther Racing team, Lazier believes "I will have a chance to win both of these races just as I had a car that could win at Indianapolis," he said.