Hines, Kahne and Davidson complete Indy Racing rookie tests

USAC racing veterans Tracy Hines, Kasey Kahne and Derek Davidson all completed Indy Racing rookie tests Thursday at the Texas Motor Speedway as part of a program offered by the Pennzoil Panther Racing Team. All three have now earned competition ...

USAC racing veterans Tracy Hines, Kasey Kahne and Derek Davidson all completed Indy Racing rookie tests Thursday at the Texas Motor Speedway as part of a program offered by the Pennzoil Panther Racing Team. All three have now earned competition licenses which could open the door to competing in the Indy Racing Northern Light Series. Hines, Kahne and Davidson are the latest of nine drivers so far to benefit from the Pennzoil Panther Racing Team tests offered at season's end to top-ranking USAC competitors in the Coors Light Silver Bullet, Stoops Freightliner Sprint Car and MCI WorldCom National Midget Car Series. Hines is the 2000 Coors Light Champion, Kahne won the MCI WorldCom National Midget Car title and Davidson earned his test due to his fifth-place finish in the Stoops Freightliner series, since the drivers ahead of him in the year-end standings had all previously completed IRL testing programs. The tests were conducted in the G-Force/Aurora driven to victory at Phoenix in 1999 by Scott Goodyear. Hines completed his test in 78 laps with a fast lap of 208.9 mph, while Davidson completed his in 72 laps with a fast lap of 208.7 and Kahne took 70 laps to pass his test, also posting a fast lap of 208.7 around the 1.5-mile superspeedway. "It is exciting to see these three young drivers pass the test, earn their license and do so well in all phases of their test," said Indy Racing Special Projects director Johnny Rutherford, who supervised the session. "Everyone did so well considering the cooler temperatures. There was a lot of talent on the track today." "These guys did a great job" said Panther Racing co-owner and team manager John Barnes. "They showed impressive skill and all of us at Panther are pleased." The test, which had been postponed in November and then again Wednesday by rain, consisted of 10 laps within a speed range in four phases between 190 and 205-plus mph. The tests began at about 2 pm Thursday to allow proper tire temperatures and was completed with Kahne driving under the lights. "I'm glad it's over," said Hines following his test. "After the rain yesterday and everything else, I was ready to get in the car. This speedway is a great place to learn. You can be a half-car width off entering the groove in the turns and still get through fine. I know my last phase was a white-knuckle ride the whole 10 laps!" Davidson was impressed at the handling once he reached the faster phases. "The front end was looser at the slower speeds. The car started planting better the faster I went. Tracy had me concerned after he finished his phase but everything went well once I got settled in after a few laps." Kahne stated: "The steering wheel was kind of jumping around during my first laps. I wasn't comfortable the first few phases but it started feeling better every 10 laps I ran. I was running as hard as I could the final phase. I was trying different lines through the corners. This is really exciting for me. All three of us want to thank Panther Racing for giving us this opportunity." USAC drivers who previously conducted year-end IRL tests with the Pennzoil Panther Racing Team were Ryan Newman, Tony Elliott, Jay Drake, Jerry Coons, Jr., Russ Gamester and Dave Darland.

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Series USAC
Drivers Ryan Newman , Scott Goodyear , Kasey Kahne , Dave Darland , Tracy Hines , Tony Elliott , Jay Drake , Russ Gamester , Jerry Coons , John Barnes , Johnny Rutherford
Teams Panther Racing