Panther Pack Team Q&A;


Have a question about the difference between the IndyCar and the Pro Series ride? Curious about what the Panther drivers do away from the track? We select some of the questions that have been submitted and share the answers to those questions on the site. If you have a question of your own, you can submit your QUESTIONS here.

Displaying questions 1-10 (of 667 total):

Q. There are lots of rumors out there about the new chassis and the problems that its having. Since you guys have tested it a few times now, what are your thoughts? Is this thing as bad as fans are being led to believe.
A. (1-23-2012) The short answer is no. Keep in mind there are going to be teething issues with any new racecar, and there are a lot of people smarter than me working tirelessly to make sure any issues are resolved. We're an active participant in those discussions, and nobody at Panther is reaching for the panic button by any means, and we encourage fans to be patient as the development on the new chassis continues.

Q. My Dad and I were talking about this a few nights ago - how crazy is it that the Indy 500 ended the way it did, and then Vegas turned so tragic for Dan Wheldon. This may sound crazy, but do you view the finish to the 500 any differently in light of what happened to Dan?
A. (1-23-2012) I'm not sure how to answer that question - I know if you walked around our building and asked our team that you'd get a wide variety of answers. We were always disappointed that we lost, while happy it was DW who won the race. While perspective has certainly changed, I think you'd find that sentiment to remain true for the most part.

Q. So how bummed is everybody at Panther that Harbaugh and the 49ers didn't make it to the Super Bowl? Does Harbaugh even come around anywmore?
A. (1-23-2012) Hildebrand went and visited Harbaugh at training camp this year while he was out there to race at Infineon, and - typically - you can always count on Harbaugh to attend the Indy 500. Obviously that would have been amazing for Jimmy to come back to Indy to play in the Super Bowl, but what an amazing first year for Coach and all the Niners. Impressive. Those guys have a bright future together.

Q. You mentioned last week that you had targeted a few drivers specifically for a second entry this season, who were they? And why didn't a deal get done? I know you probably can't answer, but you always tell us to ask anything we want. I figured I'd go for it.
A. (1-23-2012) We like it when fans feel comfortable asking anything they'd like and we take pride in being as up-front and honest as we can be. This offseason we'd targeted Hinchcliffe, Justin Wilson and Oriol Servia for seats, but obviously they all have found opportunities elsewhere. There are a million factors that go into that process. Ultimately with those three it was a combination of either not having the funding, on our end, to make a deal happen or those drivers having opportunities elsewhere. I think it's important to include that those are not the only three drivers we had conversations with, and there are certainly still opportunities out there with other potential drivers.

Q. I'm a huge fan of Pippa Mann, a former Indy Lights driver of yours. As you guys are getting ready for the season, is Pippa in the conversation as a second driver for Panther? Please say YES!!
A. (1-23-2012) Thanks for sending in your question. But currently, Pippa is not at the forefront of our discussions with respect to a second entry for the 2012 season.

Q. With social media stuff like Twitter becoming so huge this days, do you guys regulate or manage JR's Twitter account. Are all the tweets we see from him?
A. (1-16-2012) Every tweet you see is directly from JR himself, and we have not outlined any limitations for his tweets. We've had conversations about the most effective ways to utilize social media, but there are no specific rules in place with respect to his tweets. I think with other drivers or athletes you may need to be more strict, but JR's a very smart guy that we don't have to worry about in that regard.

Q. How is JR's ACL knee surgery coming along? Will he be ready to drive and do more obstacle courses this year? LOL!!
A. (1-16-2012) Rehab is going well. JR is working with St. Vincent Sports Performance Center on his rehabilitation and those guys are as good as it gets. He was cleared to run recently, which if you know JR, is something he enjoys very much. In short, everything is on schedule and he'll be in great shape when the season starts. I believe he may have seen his last obstacle course PR stunt, however.

Q. JR and Panther obviously had an up and down year in 2011. As you go through your offseason, what does Hildebrand need to do specifically to get better? He's got a lot of potential, but obviously needs to make that next step.
A. (1-16-2012) I think experience is the biggest thing. Now that he's got a full IndyCar season under his belt, you're going to see a different driver in 2012. And working with the team for another year and with his engineer David Cripps is only going to improve the level of success within the entire team. JR has a ton of talent and the potential to be a tremendous asset to the IndyCar Series both on-track and off. We're excited he'll be at Panther in the No. 4 car for the next two years.

Q. How do you guys decide upon a car livery? Does the National Guard design it? Does Panther? And if you disagree, who breaks the tie? If that makes sense.
A. (1-16-2012) That's a good question and it varies every year. Ultimately it's a discussion between the two entities that results in a base scheme. Then you start to tweak various aspects of the car here and there until you get something both parties are happy with. It's always been a smooth process with the Guard, especially when you consider all the different liveries we've run since they joined the team in 2008. This year, we knew we wanted to stick with a similar scheme to what we ran in 2011 - so the new paint came together very quickly.

Q. As we move closer and closer to the 2012 season, what is the likelihood of Panther expanding to run an additional car?
A. (1-16-2012) We'd love to run two cars in 2012 and have been proactively trying to make that happen. However, the driver and sponsorship package have to make sense, and the 2-3 drivers we were targeting have signed elsewhere. That doesn't mean we will not run an additional entry, but certainly had decreased the likelihood.