Bombardier Learjet 500
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American Revolution
By Esteban Morales

June 12, 2005

     With Chevrolet on its way out of the Indy Racing League, a dismal 2004 season for General Motors and an exciting but often erratic driver leading its cause, most discounted Panther Racing out of any kind of running this year. Chevy however, kept its end of the deal by providing Panther with a very competitive package. Lead driver Tomas Scheckter though, still had plenty to work on regarding consistency. The IRL’s “Mr. Excitement” showed well early in the season but ran into typical Scheckter trouble-losing his cool in St. Petersburg, running out of fuel while leading at Motegi and getting caught in a late race mishap at Indianapolis. With the pressure on full tilt and rumors questioning whether or not he would be in the Panther car for the rest of the season something clicked in the young South African driver.

     After unloading for the Bombardier Learjet 500 at Texas Motor Speedway Scheckter promptly got to work by placing his Pennzoil-sponsored Dallara on pole while teammate Tomas Enge made it a Panther front row after slotting into second. With the drop of the green Scheckter asserted his intent to dominate by leading through an early caution that flew after Jimmy Kite backed into turn 2. The young driver held on only to lose his lead to Tony Kanaan in the pits during a second yellow. Back out in fifth, Scheckter uncharacteristically kept his cool and hovered near the front until he found an opening to reclaim the lead on lap 44.

     A handful of laps later the yellow emerged again as Enge suffered electrical problems. The leaders took the opportunity to pit and Scheckter once more lost his lead to Kanaan. With the track back to green the Panther driver’s patience was rewarded as he snatched back the lead just before another yellow was thrown for Ed Carpenter making contact in turn 1. The green flag unfurled on lap 73 giving way to a commanding performance by Scheckter that saw him strongly lead without a glitch through the halfway mark. He went on to lose his lead twice more to Kanaan during pit sequences yet kept driving back to the front faultlessly.

     Scheckter positioned himself in the top 5 for the closing stages of the event. He relentlessly closed in on the remaining leaders as that second career victory loomed within close grasp. After clearing Scott Sharp and Sam Hornish Jr. he battled wheel to wheel with Kanaan for top honors and ultimately took the lead for the final time. Hornish closed in to no avail as Scheckter recorded his first victory with the Pennzoil Panther Racing squad reviving the Hearbeat of America.

Results:

1. Tomas Scheckter
2. Sam Hornish Jr.
3. Tony Kanaan
4. Scott Sharp
5. Helio Castroneves
6. Dan Wheldon
7. Kosuke Matsuura
8. Dario Franchitti
9. Vitor Meira
10. Bryan Herta
11. Scott Dixon
12. Ryan Briscoe
13. Danica Patrick
14. Alex Barron
15. Roger Yasukawa
16. Patrick Carpentier
17. Darren Manning
18. A.J. Foyt IV
19. Tomas Enge
20. Ed Carpenter
21. Buddy Rice
22. Jimmy Kite