Lazier Back For Indy 500

Panther Racing, the two-time IndyCar Series Champions and winningest team in Indy Racing League history, has entered into a partnership with Jonathan Byrd II and David Byrd for the formation of Byrd Brothers/Panther Racing.

The Byrd Brothers/Panther Racing team has signed 1996 Indianapolis 500 Champion and 2000 IndyCar Champion Buddy Lazier to drive the No. 95 Jonathan Byrd's Cafeteria/Panther Racing/ESPN 950/Dallara/Chevrolet in the 2005 Indianapolis 500.

Talking about this new team, Panther co-owner John Barnes said, "Everyone at Panther Racing is excited to have the Byrd Brothers join with us for this year's Indianapolis 500. The Byrd family has a long history at the Brickyard, and with this partnership, we are proud to be able to bring them back to the Speedway."

Echoing those comments, Jonathan Byrd II added "Panther is such a fantastic racing team. My brother and I consider it an absolute privilege to be able to join with them to form Byrd Brothers/Panther Racing and return to Indianapolis to take another shot at winning the 500."

"We want nothing more than to win the Indianapolis 500," Panther co-owner Doug Boles said. "With Buddy Lazier behind the wheel of the Byrd Brothers/Panther Racing car, in addition to Panther Racing drivers Tomas Scheckter and Tomas Enge, we feel like we have a tremendous opportunity to accomplish that goal."

"Just to be able to have a car at the Indy 500 is a dream come true for me,” David Byrd added. “With Buddy Lazier as the driver of that car, we believe that the dream of winning the Indy 500 is absolutely within reach."

In one of the most impressive displays of tenacity and determination in the history of racing, Buddy Lazier won the Indianapolis 500 in 1996, just three short months after suffering serious back and pelvis injuries in a testing crash at Phoenix International Raceway. In 12 starts at Indy, Buddy has recorded five top seven finishes, which include his 1996 victory, two runner-up finishes in 1998 and 2000, a fourth place run in 1997 and a seventh place finish in 1999. Lazier has led 70 laps at Indianapolis, and in the 2004 edition of the great event, ran as high as 11th place before being sidelined with fuel system problems.

The 37-year-old Vail, Colorado resident is one of the most accomplished drivers in IndyCar Series history. In addition to his 2000 IndyCar series championship, Buddy has a total of eight victories, which ties him for second with Scott Sharp on the series’ all-time list. Lazier also ranks 7th on the IRL's all-time lap leader chart with 1,027 laps led.

To go along with his impressive list of accomplishments, Buddy also posted an IROC win at Chicagoland Speedway in 2001, and finished second in IROC points in the same season. As an interesting sidenote, Buddy made his rookie run in the Indianapolis 500 with the Hemelgarn/Byrd Racing team in 1991.

Lazier, speaking about his opportunity with Byrd Brothers/Panther Racing, said, "After you get a win at Indianapolis, all you can think about is winning it again. Now that I'm going back to Indy with the resources of the Byrd Brothers/Panther team, Chevy power, and two great teammates, I believe that I can make it back to victory lane at the 500 this year."

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