Panther Finalizes Team

25-year-old 2003 Infiniti Pro Series Champion Mark Taylor has been confirmed as the driver of the number two Panther Racing entry for the 2004 Indy Racing League IndyCar Series.

"The Menards Infiniti Series is designed to be the stepping stone series in the IRL and, as the 2003 champion, it is a natural that Mark progress into the IndyCar series," said Panther Racing co-owner and sponsor John Menard. "It is even more fitting that Mark competes in 2004 with Menards and Johns Manville colors."

Taylor, who won 7 of the 12 Menards Infiniti Series raced in dominant style, en-route to the 2003 championship, is looking forward to the opportunity to stay in the United States and to continue in oval racing with a team whose ownership represents 29 wins and four championships in the IRL IndyCar series.

"I am delighted to have been selected to drive for Panther Racing and Menards/Johns Manville. This is a great opportunity for me and I would like to thank John Menard and everyone at Panther Racing for making this possible. When the 2003 season started, I wasn’t sure what to expect in oval racing. As it turns out, it is fantastic racing, a great product for the fans and I knew quickly that I wanted my career to lead to the IndyCar series," said Taylor about his first season of racing in America.

While competing in the IndyCar series will be new for Taylor, he has had an opportunity to compete against some other IndyCar drivers in other formulas.

"Obviously, I competed against Ed Carpenter this year in the Menards Infiniti Series and I must say that I really enjoyed running side-by-side with him and believe he will be very competitive in the IndyCar series," said Taylor. "But looking way back, I competed against Dan Wheldon in the British Cadet Karting Championship when I was nine and Tomas Scheckter and I were teammates for a brief period in Formula Vauxhall Junior a few years ago and I look forward to renewing that relationship."

"When I came to the States, I wanted to be close to the race shop so I could get to know the guys and really dedicate myself to learning oval racing,” said Taylor. "Not only have I enjoyed the oval racing immensely, I enjoy living in Indianapolis and I am excited to continue my career with Panther Racing and keep my personal life based in Indianapolis."

Taylor had his first seat time in the Pennzoil Panther Racing Chevrolet IndyCar at Texas Motor Speedway in early October and impressed Panther Racing's John Barnes with his smoothness and his quick transition to the higher speeds.

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