IRL: Two USAC Standouts Pass Indy Racing Rookie Test

FORT WORTH, Texas, March 24, 2000 - Patience paid off for USAC short-track standouts Russ Gamester and Jerry Coons Jr. as they both passed the Indy Racing rookie test March 24 at Texas Motor Speedway with Panther Racing. Gamester and Coons each ...

FORT WORTH, Texas, March 24, 2000 - Patience paid off for USAC short-track standouts Russ Gamester and Jerry Coons Jr. as they both passed the Indy Racing rookie test March 24 at Texas Motor Speedway with Panther Racing. Gamester and Coons each passed all four phases of the test on the 1.5-mile, high-banked oval in a 1999 Pennzoil Panther chassis fitted with a new, 3.5-liter Oldsmobile engine. Both drivers completed 75 total laps, with each turning 10 or more laps in each of four phases ranging from 190 to more than 200 mph.

Cold weather and high winds delayed the originally scheduled test in late December 1999.

1999 Stoops Freightliner Sprint Car Series champion Dave Darland completed the first phase of the test before mechanical failure ended his testing. Darland completed approximately 20 laps.

Supervising the test Friday were regular Pennzoil Panther driver Scott Goodyear, three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Johnny Rutherford and Indy Racing League Director of Racing Operations Brian Barnhart.

"Johnny and I were very impressed with the professionalism of all three guys," Barnhart said. "It's only natural for drivers to be competitive, but these guys did not get caught up in trying to out do each other. They did exactly what was asked of them buy the Pennzoil Panther team. "Dave was doing a very nice job and progressing as expected. There was no indication he wouldn't have continued smoothly through the last three phases."

This is the second consecutive year that Pennzoil and Panther Racing have provided Indy Racing rookie tests to a top driver in each of the three major USAC short-track series. Gamester was the runner-up in the 1999 Coors Light Silver Bullet Series, and Coons finished third in the 1999 MCI WorldCom National Midget Car Series.

-IRL/IMS-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Dave Darland , Russ Gamester , Brian Barnhart , Johnny Rutherford , Jerry Coons Jr.
Teams Panther Racing