Panther Racing

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Panther Racing
Motor racing team
Founded April 1997
Country USA
State Indiana
Team Principal(s) John Barnes
Jim Harbaugh
Mike Griffin
Courtney Jones
Joe Cain
Former series IndyCar Series
Drivers
Drivers' titles 2
Teams' titles
Panther's 2006 car driven by Vitor Meira

Panther Racing was an American open wheel auto racing team. It was one of the oldest continually operating teams in Indy Racing League LLC's IZOD IndyCar Series.

Four years in a row (2008–2011), the team finished second at the Indianapolis 500. In the 2011 Indy 500 the team's rookie driver J. R. Hildebrand was leading when he crashed on the final turn of the final lap. He coasted across the finish line to place second.

History[edit]

The team was started in late 1997, beginning racing in the IRL's 1998 season, with sponsorship from Pennzoil and six owners—open-wheel racing team manager John Barnes, Indianapolis car dealer Gary Pedigo, former radio personality Mike Griffin, television production executive Terry Lingner, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Jim Harbaugh and City of Indianapolis director of corporate government affairs Doug Boles sharing in ownership of the team. The cars carried an unusual yellow and black paint scheme, as Pennzoil ditched its traditional all-yellow livery in favour of a Sam Bass design as part of changes by the sponsor when they added NASCAR sponsorship in 1998. (Bass, a well-known race car motorsport livery designer, wanted more focus on black instead of the traditional yellow to reflect Pennzoil's sponsorship of Dale Earnhardt, Inc. in 1998—Earnhardt's signature color, and it was shown on the Pennzoil IRL car.) The team's top car bore #4, which reflected Harbaugh's jersey number with the Colts. Scott Goodyear drove the car and scored modest success, finishing seventh in championship standings.

Panther broke in the win column during the 1999 season, with Goodyear winning at Phoenix and at Texas in June, finishing in ninth place in the season points standings.

Goodyear closed his driving career during the 2000 season with the Panther team, winning his last race (Texas in October), and finishing second to Buddy Lazier in overall points. The team also reverted to traditional Pennzoil yellow for 2000, turning away from the Sam Bass yellow and black Pennzoil design, but keeping its General Motors affiliation, as Gary Pedigo owns a Chevrolet dealership.

For the 2001 season, the team signed second-year driver Sam Hornish Jr., who had made his debut at PDM Racing, as its driver. He won the IRL Championship by 105 points and earned three wins (Phoenix, Homestead-Miami Speedway, and Texas in October). The impressive season included 11 top-five finishes and 12 top-10 finishes. Interestingly, the team chose not to wear the champion's #1, owing instead to wearing Harbaugh's #4 for identity purposes, owing to marketing of the team as #4 out of respect for Harbaugh. Ironically, Harbaugh paid respect to A. J. Foyt during his final year in the NFL with the Carolina Panthers when he wore #14, because kicker John Kasay wears #4 for the Charlotte-based team.

The team repeated its season championship in 2002. However, with an influx of new teams from the troubled CART defecting to the IRL, the loyalists were disadvantaged, and when Hornish was unable to continue his success in the 2003 season, he left for Penske Racing.

In 2004, Team Menard merged into Panther Racing, which had Mark Taylor and Tomas Scheckter driving the Chevrolets for the season, with Taylor the #2 Johns Manville Chevrolet, and Scheckter the #4 Pennzoil Chevrolet. Taylor was fired mid-2004 through the team's worst drought, caused by an uncompetitive engine.

For the 2005 season, Rockstar Energy Drink, replaced Johns Manville as the primary sponsor of the #2 car, with Tomáš Enge as its driver, while Scheckter stayed with the #4, winning at Texas Motor Speedway.

Shell Oil was not happy with their sponsorship, and withdrew as primary sponsor for the team. However, new sponsorship was found and Vitor Meira was confirmed as their driver for 2006, with a series of different sponsors (including EcoNova, Harrah's, Revive!, and Lincoln Tech) throughout the year on the #4 Honda. Pennzoil remained on the car as an associate sponsor.

For 2007, Kosuke Matsuura joined Panther as a second car, running Panasonic sponsorship and in association with the Autobacs Racing Team Aguri, with the #55. Meira's #4 carried Delphi sponsorship. Both drivers had so-so years, with Matsuura taking a top five at Michigan. For 2008, Matsuura was released from the 55 and Panasonic sponsorship went to the 27 of rookie Hideki Mutoh for Andretti Green Racing. Meira's team remained unchanged. Meira scored a second place finish for Panther Racing at the 2008 Indianapolis 500, earning more than a million dollars.

In 2009 former IndyCar Series champ and Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon replaced Meira in the Panther #4 car, with the U.S. National Guard as the primary sponsor. Veteran driver Scott Sharp competed in the #16 Patron car for the team at the Indy 500. Wheldon finished second, with Sharp off the pace.

In 2010, Wheldon remained with the team and again placed second in the Indianapolis 500, however the team was not a factor for most of the season. The squad also ran a limited schedule with Ed Carpenter, scoring a second place finish at Kentucky. Wheldon departed the team after the season, while Carpenter signed on with Sarah Fisher Racing.

In 2009, Firestone Indy Lights champion J.R. Hildebrand signed a multi-year contract to drive the #4 National Guard car starting in 2011.[1] Hildebrand was released from his contract after the 2013 Indy 500. Ryan Briscoe and Oriol Servia alternated in the #4 car for the remainder of the season. Briscoe was injured in Race 1 of the Toronto doubleheader. With Servia unavailable, Panther Racing got Indy Lights points leader (at the time) Carlos Muñoz to drive the #4 for race 2.

In 2014, Panther Racing sued Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and IndyCar, alleging it lost the National Guard sponsorship worth $17.2 million because of bid rigging.[2] Without the National Guard sponsorship, Panther did not field an entry for the start of the 2014 season. In April a report stated that only a skeleton staff remained with the organization, and their equipment was sold to KV Racing Technology to field a fourth entry for James Davison at the 2014 Indianapolis 500.[3] The team announced that its remaining assets would be sold of at auction on July 23.[4]

Drivers who have driven for Panther[edit]

Racing results[edit]

Complete IRL IndyCar Series results[edit]

(key)

Year Chassis Engine Drivers No. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19
1998 G-Force GF01B Oldsmobile Aurora V8 WDW PHX INDY TXS NHA DOV CLT PPIR ATL TXS LSV
Canada Scott Goodyear 4 17 6 24 4 2 6 3 18 4* 22 22
United States Dave Steele 43 24 27
1999 G-Force GF01C Oldsmobile Aurora V8 WDW PHX INDY TXS PPIR ATL DOV PPIR LSV TXS
Canada Scott Goodyear 4 2 1* 27 1 12 16* 17 21 25 23*
United States Dave Steele 43 DNQ
2000 Dallara IR-00 Oldsmobile Aurora V8 WDW PHX LSV INDY TXS PPIR ATL KTY TXS
Canada Scott Goodyear 4 4 2 12 9 5 16 11 2* 1
2001 Dallara IR-01 Oldsmobile Aurora V8 PHX HMS ATL INDY TXS PPIR RIR KAN NSH KTY GAT CHI TXS
United States Sam Hornish, Jr. 4 1* 1* 4 14 3 2* 2 2 6* 3 3* 2 1*
2002 Dallara IR-02 Chevrolet Indy V8 HMS PHX FON NAZ INDY TXS PPIR RIR KAN NSH MCH KTY GAT CHI TXS
United States Sam Hornish, Jr. 4 1* 3* 1* 17 25 18 3 1 2 3* 7 2 5 1* 1
United Kingdom Dan Wheldon 15 10 15
2003 Dallara IR-03 Chevrolet Indy V8 HMS PHX MOT INDY TXS PPIR RIR KAN NSH MCH GAT KTY NAZ CHI FON TXS
United States Sam Hornish, Jr. 4 10 21 6 15 10 5 4 17 11 2* 6 1* 2 1 1 17
United States Robby McGehee 44 25
United States Billy Boat 98 32
2004 Dallara IR-04 Chevrolet Indy V8 HMS PHX MOT INDY TXS RIR KAN NSH MIL MCH KTY PPIR NAZ CHI FON TXS
United Kingdom Mark Taylor 2 19 12 16 30 17 18
United States Townsend Bell 17 5 6 8 21 12 18 22 9 9
South Africa Tomas Scheckter 4 5 16 13 18 20 17 15 19 21 19 22 17 13 19 15 18
2005 Dallara IR-05 Chevrolet Indy V8 HMS PHX STP MOT INDY TXS RIR KAN NSH MIL MCH KTY PPIR SNM CHI WGL FON
Czech Republic Tomáš Enge 2 21 20 16 DNS 19 19 7 11 23 11 6 5 20 13 8
United States Townsend Bell 15
United States Buddy Lazier 18
95 5 9 6 6 10
South Africa Tomas Scheckter 4 11 17 17 10 20 1* 4 5 17 3 3 21 14 16 4 20 7*
2006 Dallara IR-05 Honda HI6R V8 HMS STP MOT INDY WGL TXS RIR KAN NSH MIL MCH KTY SNM CHI
Brazil Vitor Meira 4 16 5 10 10 2 6 2 3 3 15 2* 6 3 6
2007 Dallara IR-05 Honda HI7R V8 HMS STP MOT KAN INDY MIL TXS IOW RIR WGL NSH MDO MCH KTY SNM DET CHI
Brazil Vitor Meira 4 4 16 17 8 10 5 5 9 9 17 10 17 18 10 9 15 18
United States John Andretti 33 30
Japan Kosuke Matsuura 55 16 17 18 18 16 11 9 15 17 8 16 12 4 11 10 5 17
Japan Hideki Mutoh 60 8
2008 Dallara IR-05 Honda HI7R V8 HMS STP MOT LBH KAN INDY MIL TXS IOW RIR WGL NSH MDO EDM KTY SNM DET CHI SRF1
Brazil Vitor Meira 4 10 19 16 22 2 22 7 15 20 22 6 6 19 4 7 17 27
United Kingdom Dan Wheldon 11
2009 Dallara IR-05 Honda HI7R V8 STP LBH KAN INDY MIL TXS IOW RIR WGL TOR EDM KTY MDO SNM CHI MOT HMS
United Kingdom Dan Wheldon 4 14 5 10 2 10 7 4 10 10 14 15 11 16 12 22 8 21
United States Scott Sharp 16 14
2010 Dallara IR-05 Honda HI7R V8 SAO STP ALA LBH KAN INDY TXS IOW WGL TOR EDM MDO SNM CHI KTY MOT HMS
United Kingdom Dan Wheldon 4 5 20 11 9 15 2 9 11 6 10 20 14 25 2 3* 10 9
United States Ed Carpenter 20 17 20 2 13
2011 Dallara IR-05 Honda HI7R V8 STP ALA LBH SAO INDY TXS MIL IOW TOR EDM MDO NHA SNM BAL MOT KTY LSV
United States J. R. Hildebrand 4 11 13 17 10 2 23 18 21 4 8 11 25 21 23 19 7 20 C
United States Buddy Rice 44 18 9 C
2012 Dallara DW12 Chevrolet IndyCar V6t STP ALA LBH SAO INDY DET TEX MIL IOW TOR EDM MDO SNM BAL FON
United States J. R. Hildebrand 4 19 15 5 7 14 14 5 22 22 7 21 9 8 12 11
2013 Dallara DW12 Chevrolet IndyCar V6t STP ALA LBH SAO INDY DET DET TXS MIL IOW POC TOR TOR MDO SNM BAL HOU HOU FON
United States J. R. Hildebrand 4 19 17 5 15 33
Australia Ryan Briscoe 21 13 15 14 22 DNS 17
Spain Oriol Servià 19 7 14 12 19 7 19
Colombia Carlos Muñoz 17
United States Townsend Bell 60 27
1 Non-points-paying, exhibition race.

References[edit]

External links[edit]