Tuesday, April 16, 2013

What's Wrong With Panther?

Weird how Panther Racing hasn't won since June 11th, 2005 (or 2,885 days), when Tomas Scheckter won at Texas Motor Speedway. When I think of solid teams, Panther is one that jumps to the top. But just how solid have they been lately?

Since Scheckter's win, those who have driven full time in their cars include names like Vitor Meira, Kosuke Matsuura, Dan Wheldon, and now JR Hildebrand, with one offs by John Andretti, Hideki Mutoh, Scott Sharp, Ed Carpenter, and Buddy Rice. You have a combined 30 wins with the drivers listed and three Indianapolis 500 victories, but not one with Panther Racing. If you take the total positions gained by the above drivers while at Panther (1742 places) and divide it by the number of starts they've had at Panther (144), you get an average finish of 12.09. That is not all that great, very decent at best.

Their most recent driver, JR Hildebrand, has had some flashes of brilliance, with some great runs in Fontana 2012, Iowa 2012, and the defining moment of his young career, Indianapolis 2011. But all of the races listed were going great for him and all ended in a unfortunate manner. Though JR has had some questionable decisions and has put himself in poor situations in the past, how much support has Panther giving JR? On every road course, it seems like he is buried in the back of the field due to a bad qualifying effort.

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JR getting hit by Graham Rahal, Barber 2011 (Photo: Kevin Cox / Getty Images)

Only active teams with longer win droughts in the Indycar Series include Dreyer and Reinbold (4,825 days), AJ Foyt Racing (3,935 days), and KV Racing (3,704 days). Unfortunately for Panther, the teams previous listed have gotten off to a good start in the 2013 season and were impressive in 2012 as well.

I have a strong feeling that if it wasn't for primary sponsor National Guard, one of the most active and top notch sponsors for Indycar, Panther Racing would have been long gone by now.

What needs to change? I don't have the answer. But as an old Chinese Proverb states, "If we don't change our direction, we're likely to end up where we are going."

Let me know what you think.

-Matthew Hickey

1 comment:

  1. Let me stress that I am not trying to re-open old wounds, but of the teams you mentioned, only KVRT is not an old-school IRL team. That, however, may be completely irrelevant.

    I believe-although I'm not privy to their or any other INDYCAR team's financial situations-that money and personnel are bigger factors in their struggles. While Takuma Sato has looked good at times for AJFR this season, and Oriol Servia can do a job on the street/road courses for DRR, Panther to me seems to have never been a great team outside of the ovals. And with the series skewed toward street/road courses, Panther will fall further down the pecking order. It would not surprise me at all if JR Hildebrand leaves-voluntarily or involuntarily-the Panther Racing team at the end of this season. He may have to if he wants to have any kind of success in INDYCAR.

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