2009 IRL Team Reports: Panther Racing

IRL Team reports for the 2009 IRL season

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2009 IRL Team Reports: Panther Racing

Postby mlittle » Sat Apr 04, 2009 12:55 pm

----Wheldon Finishes Fifth in First St. Pete Practice Session, Final Practice Limited Due to Pit Road Incident
National Guard Panther Car Amongst Quickest in Competitive IndyCar Series Field

St. Petersburg, Florida (April 3, 2009) – Dan Wheldon and his National Guard Panther team had an impressive first day of practice Friday on the Streets of St. Petersburg, but saw the final practice of the day conclude courtesy of the team's former driver. The day ended with the No. 4 team in the 19th position on the final speed chart for the day, but with a fast racecar and high expectations for tomorrow's qualifications.

Wheldon was amongst the quickest drivers in the morning session on Friday, concluding the hour-and-a-half long session with the fifth overall time at 99.710 mph, 1:04.9190 seconds. He looked to repeat that effort in the second session of the day, and again had the fifth fastest speed as he finished his first run of the final practice.

After a caution period, the track returned to green and Wheldon launched from his pit box at the same time as the driver of the No. 14 car, who was pitted directly behind Panther. As Wheldon moved into the fast lane he was struck in the left-rear tire, causing minor suspension damage to the Panther Dallara.

There will be one practice session Saturday morning before IndyCar Series qualifications.

The Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will be broadcast live on Versus at 2 p.m. (EST) with additional coverage provided by the IMS Radio Network and XM Sirius channel 145.

Dan Wheldon, No. 4 National Guard Dallara Honda

"It was a really promising day, we were fifth quickest in the morning and when we came into the pits before the little incident we were fifth. So the preparation we've done over the winter has really seemed to help, it's been a long winter and there has been a lot of work and everybody at the Panther race shop has done a good job. Obviously, it's very exciting when the National Guard car is running this fast. It was a shame the day ended early because I think it would have just got better and better."

(On the contact with the driver of the No. 14 car on Pit Road):

"Honestly I don't know what happened, I was just going out of the pits. Obviously, it's just a practice day, so no one's going crazy. I just felt a bump from behind and it broke the suspension. It's just one of those things."

Dan Wheldon Launches Redesigned Website

Dan Wheldon, driver of the No. 4 National Guard car for Panther Racing in the IndyCar Series, re-launched his newly designed website today at www.danwheldon.com.

Fans of the 2005 Indianapolis 500 winner and the IndyCar Series champion can follow Dan's 2009 racing campaign with the latest on-track news, insightful race-by-race previews, in-depth video interviews of Dan's life on-and-off the racetrack, and all the latest driver and sponsor news from the IndyCar Series. Visitors will also be able to download one-of-a-kind desktop wallpapers and purchase official Dan Wheldon and Panther Racing merchandise. Check back often for new photos and videos of the Panther Racing driver and to follow the 2009 IndyCar Series season.

www.danwheldon.com - www.pantherracing.comwww.NationalGuard.com
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Postby mlittle » Mon Apr 06, 2009 12:40 pm

~~~Wheldon's Return to Panther Spoiled by Late-Race Collision at St. Pete


National Guard Panther Driver Impressive in Return to Team, Runs High As Second Before Crash

St. Petersburg, Florida (April 5, 2009) - Dan Wheldon's return to Panther Racing after a six-year hiatus saw the former league champion run within the top three contenders for a bulk of the race Sunday at St. Petersburg before a late-race crash with Robert Doornbos ended the day for the team in 14th position. Wheldon appeared poised for a Top Five result before contact with the Newman/Hass/Lanigan driver ended his run at his hometown racecourse.

After starting 11th, Wheldon slipped past two competitors during a messy crash in Turn One on the first lap of the race. On lap 32 he pitted along with Team Penske driver Ryan Briscoe just prior to a full-course caution for contact between Raphael Matos and Danica Patrick. The timely stop helped elevate the No. 4 team into the second position, where they would remain until the team pitted its final time on Lap 67.

After the field cycled through pit stops, Wheldon was running in third position until a restart on Lap 78, where after being passed by Ryan Hunter-Reay in the first turn, challengers Tony Kanaan and Dario Franchitti were able to slip past the No. 4 car as it got into the marbles. Three laps later, Scott Dixon crashed into the into the tire barriers in Turn Three, again bringing out the caution flag. On what would be his final restart of the day, Wheldon was able to pass Kanaan on the inside of the first turn, but the Andretti Green Racing driver was able to take the position back quickly. The pass checked up Wheldon as he approached Turns Two and Three, one of the high-speed sections of a track.

The slow run into Turn Four enabled Doornbos to run alongside Wheldon as the two went side-by-side into the fourth turn, but they could not avoid contact and the No. 4 car ended up in the tire barriers, effectively stuck in 14th position.

Despite the disappointing finish, Panther officials were positive about their showing on the difficult St. Petersburg street course. The team will now prepare to travel to the west coast for the historic Long Beach Grand Prix, one of open-wheel racing's most celebrated events. It will be the first time in team history that Panther has been able to compete in the prestigious race, but Wheldon has competed there on one previous occasion while in the Toyota Atlantic Series.

The Toyota Long Beach Grand Prix will be held on Sunday, April 19th at 3:30 p.m. with live coverage on Versus, IMS Radio Network, www.IndyCar.com and XM Sirius Channel 145.

Dan Wheldon, No. 4 National Guard Dallara Honda
"On the last restart I got a real good run on TK (Tony Kanaan) out of the last corner and went down to the inside, but anytime you pass TK it's a challenge and I braked just a little bit late and missed the apex and he got me back and it just kind of bottled me up. Then I got a poor run out of turns two and three and going into (turn) four Doornbos had a go at me and I thought I left him enough room, but unfortunately we touched. There were so many marbles out there. It was a great racecar that the National Guard Panther Racing team gave me, and I want to thank all these St. Petersburg fans for coming out today. This is a great city to live in and I'm sorry this race didn't pan out the way I'd like it to."
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Postby mlittle » Sat Apr 11, 2009 8:37 am

-----Panther Partners with Patrón, Scott Sharp for 93rd Indianapolis 500
Former IndyCar Series Co-Champion, Indy 500 Pole Winner Returns to IndyCar in May

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (April 9, 2009) – Panther Racing announced today it has reached an agreement with veteran driver Scott Sharp and the Patrón Spirits Company to enter a car in the 93rd Running of the Indianapolis 500. Sharp last competed in the IndyCar Series in 2007 with Rahal-Letterman Racing, and is currently having a successful tenure in ALMS, where he is a member of Patrón Highcroft Racing.

Sharp will drive the No. 16 Tequila Patrón Panther Racing Honda Dallara.

"We've been having conversations about having Scott drive for us for the last four years," Panther owner John Barnes said. "As a team, we're excited to get this program finalized early so we can be prepared to make a strong run at the Indianapolis 500 this year with the support of Scott and Patrón. We certainly feel like Scott is a very capable and experienced driver, and he and Dan Wheldon will really be a force during the month."

Sharp will team with former Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon, driver of the No. 4 National Guard Panther entry, giving Panther one of the most formidable and experienced driver combinations entering the month of May.

Sharp was the polesitter for the Greatest Spectacle in Racing in 2001, Wheldon captured victory at the Brickyard in 2005.

Panther finished runner-up in the Indy 500 last season and led 12 laps at the 2.5-mile oval after qualifying in eighth position.

"I can't express how excited I am to be back at the Indianapolis 500, especially with the chance to team with Tequila Patrón and Panther Racing," Sharp said. "I want to thank Tequila Patrón for all of their support and I am excited to showcase the world's No. 1 premium Tequila in the world's biggest race. John Barnes and the entire Panther team are relentless in pushing their cars to the top and that has shown in their results. We will be a great combination."

Sharp has started a total of 146 IndyCar Series events, more than any other driver in the series' history. He amassed a total of nine victories, six pole positions and 38 Top Five and 82 Top Ten finishes during his career.

The Jupiter, Florida resident has led a total of 1,032 laps in his IndyCar career. Last season in ALMS, he and co-driver David Brabham scored four LMP2 class victories including an overall win at Lime Rock Park. The duo finished first or second in seven of the 11 races that season.

The announcement also marks the return of Patrón Spirits to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where the ultra-premium tequila brand was a primary sponsor of Sharp in 2007, when he finished sixth – his best career result in the '500'. Sharp has made a total of 13 starts at Indianapolis, making his debut there in 1994 driving for PacWest. For his career at Indy, Sharp has collected five Top Ten finishes and completed a total of 1,980 laps, and led the event in 2002 while driving a Delphi-sponsored Dallara.

"Nothing beats the exhilaration and excitement of world-class motorsports racing, and through our numerous racing sponsorships, we're extremely committed and passionate about this great sport," Ed Brown, President and CEO of Patrón Spirits International A.G., said. "Partnering with Panther
Racing and veteran driver Scott Sharp, we're extremely proud to enter a Tequila Patrón car and compete again this year at the biggest motorsport event in the world, the Indianapolis 500!"

Practice for the 93rd Running of the Indianapolis 500 begins on May 5th, with Pole Day Qualifications taking place on Saturday, May 9th. The Indianapolis 500 will be held on May 24th and broadcast live at noon on ABC, IMS Radio Network, www.indycar.com and XM Sirius Channel 211.

About Patrón Spirits Company

Simply perfect in every way, Patrón is the world's No. 1 selling ultra-premium tequila. From the finest, most expensive Weaber Blue agave plants grown in the highlands of Jalisco, Mexico, to the centuries-old distillation process, to the signed, handcrafted glass bottles, Patrón is produced with unparalleled attention to detail. Imported and marketed by Las Vegas-based The Patron Spirits Company, brands in the portfolio consist of Patrón Gran Platinum, Patrón Gran Burdeos, Patrón Anejo, Patrón Reposado, Patrón Silver, Patrón XO Café (tequila and coffee blend), and Patrón
Citrónge (extra fine orange liqueur), Ultimat Vodka, as well as Pyrat Pistol, Pyrat Cask, and Pyrat XO Reserve Caribbean rums.
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Postby mlittle » Sat Apr 18, 2009 12:32 am

Panther's Dan Wheldon Named National Guard Youth Foundation National Spokesperson

Indy 500 Winner Assists Youth ChalleNGe Program in Tackling High School Dropout Epidemic

Long Beach, California (April 16, 2009) -- Panther Racing's Dan Wheldon is teaming up with the National Guard Youth Foundation to serve as a national spokesperson to bring more awareness to the high school dropout epidemic and the National Guard Youth Challenge Program. The Indy 500 Champion will be the first to tell you that his success on the race track today is due in large part to the love and support of his family growing up.

Not everyone is so lucky.

Wheldon announced the partnership at the Grand Prix of Long Beach. Cadets from the California Sunburst Youth Academy at Los Alamitos joined Wheldon at the racetrack for the announcement.

"Serving as a national spokesperson for the National Guard Youth Foundation is an opportunity that I am very honored to receive, but one that I take very seriously," said Dan Wheldon. "I have been personally inspired by the Cadets themselves, and the stories they have shared in the time I've been familiar with this program. The Youth Challenge program is making a profound difference in the lives of thousands of young men and women, and the direction in which some of these lives are headed is unbelievable. There are some remarkable people associated with the National Guard Youth Foundation, and the Youth Challenge program, and I am happy to do whatever I can to bring needed attention to the positive difference they are making in the lives of young people."

"We could not be more pleased to have Dan Wheldon as a National Spokesperson for the Foundation and Youth Challenge," said Gail Dady, National Guard Youth Foundation Board member. "Over 1.2 million young people dropout of school every year in this country. Youth Challenge provides them a second chance to become a productive citizen. Dan will be an articulate and effective spokesperson for an issue that has become a national crisis. He also knows the dedication and hard work that it takes to be a success and will be a tremendous role model for the young men and women in the program. We are very grateful to Dan and the entire Panther Racing team for their support and for opening a door that not only brings attention to the dropout issue but will allow our cadets to explore career opportunities and experience IndyCar racing firsthand."

As a National Spokesperson, Wheldon will speak on behalf of the Foundation and the Youth Challenge Program via personal appearances, Public Service Announcements and media availabilities.

Dan Wheldon and Panther Racing plan to involve Youth Challenge cadets in future races by having them attend races across the country and get a first-hand look inside the racing business. Panther Racing will also establish an internship for Youth Challenge cadets that will allow Program graduates an opportunity to work inside the business
and explore various jobs within the industry.

About the National Guard Youth Challenge Program

The National Guard Youth Challenge Program is a 17-month voluntary intervention program established to provide training and education for high school dropouts interested in pursuing higher education, attaining employment or joining the military. The Youth Challenge program operates 33 programs in 27 states and Puerto Rico. Youth Challenge has graduated over 85,000 former high school dropouts since being founded in 1993.

About the National Guard Youth Foundation

The National Guard Youth Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization formed to support the work of the National Guard Youth Challenge Program through public awareness, scholarships, higher education assistance, mentoring and job development programs for graduates. The Foundation works to expand the number of states and sites

per state to accommodate growing demand for the program. The Honorary Board of Directors is co-chaired by Former President George H. W. Bush and Senator Mary L. Landrieu (D-La). For more information about the National Guard Youth Foundation, please visit www.ngyouthfoundation.org.
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Postby mlittle » Sun Apr 19, 2009 10:44 am

~~~Wheldon Posts Fourth Quickest Overall Time in Friday Long Beach Practice
National Guard Panther Team Improves in Each Practice Session, Saves Best for Last

LONG BEACH, California (April 17, 2009) -- Panther Racing's first day on the Streets of Long Beach featured team driver Dan Wheldon posting the fourth quickest overall time during the Friday practice session. Wheldon, racing on the course for the first time since he ran here in Atlantics, is coming off a performance in St. Petersburg where he ran within the top three competitors for the majority of the day prior to late-race contact and a 14th-place finish.

His quick lap on the day was registered at 99.922 mph, 1:10.9 seconds.

The day also marks the first time in the team's history is has performed at Long Beach, one of the most historic and celebrated events in open-wheel racing history. The weekend will also be the 35th Long Beach Grand Prix in history, and the first under a unified open-wheel series in over ten years.

The Toyota Long Beach Grand Prix will be held on Sunday, April 19th at 3:30 p.m. with live coverage on Versus, IMS Radio Network, www.IndyCar.com and XM Sirius Channel 145.

Dan Wheldon, No. 4 National Guard Dallara Honda

"After working on the National Guard car following the morning session we were able to get it pretty close to where we would like. There are still some improvements that we'd like to make, but for the most part the car is good to the point where we just have to make a few small changes and we'll get it to the point where it's better and working towards a track that's going to continue to get more and more grip. If we can get it to that point, we're going to be looking at a very strong weekend."
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Postby mlittle » Sun Apr 19, 2009 12:24 pm

Wheldon Qualifies Fourteenth for Sunday's Grand Prix of Long Beach; National Guard Panther Driver Misses Advancing to Second Round by One Tenth of a Second

LONG BEACH, California (April 18, 2009) -- National Guard Panther Racing driver Dan Wheldon narrowly missed advancing to the second round of qualifications Saturday for the Grand Prix of Long Beach, and instead will start from the fourteenth position on the grid. In the second of qualifications first two groups, Wheldon finished seventh quick, just one-tenth of a second away from advancing to the second of three rounds.

Wheldon posted a quick lap of 1:10.5503 seconds, 100.422 mph and will start alongside Mario Moraes in the seventh row. He started the IndyCar Series opener in 11th place, and ran a majority of the race within the top three prior to a 14th-place finish.

Team Penske driver Will Power captured the pole position in the team's No. 12 entry. Sunday will mark the first time in team history that Panther has competed in the Long Beach Grand Prix, before the team returns to Kansas Speedway next weekend -- a track where Wheldon has won the last two IndyCar Series races.

Wheldon, the 2005 Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar Series champion, competed at Long Beach in the Atlantic series in 2000.

Dan Wheldon, No. 4 National Guard Dallara Honda

"The car was pretty good yesterday and we made some changes today and just haven't quite got the same balance. I think certainly the National Guard Panther Racing car was capable of making the second round of qualifying, but the IndyCar Series is just so competitive that if you miss it by a little bit you don't make it, and that's a shame. The potential in our car is definitely there, we just missed it by a little bit. We'll work on the racecar in the warm-up tomorrow. We know we can get a reasonable balance and be very quick, it's just making sure that we get there."
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Postby mlittle » Tue Apr 21, 2009 3:13 am

Wheldon Captures First Panther Top Five on Streets of Long Beach; National Guard Panther Racing Driver Climbs from 14th to Fifth Place Finish

LONG BEACH, California (April 19, 2009) -- Dan Wheldon earned his first Top Five finish with Panther Racing Sunday at the Grand Prix of Long Beach, where the National Guard driver made a long climb from his 14th-place qualification spot and into a fifth place finish. The result, his first Top Five of the season, catapults the team into seventh place in the IndyCar Series standings, just 35 points out of the championship lead.

During his accent to the front of the grid, Wheldon was able to avert two incidents that nearly cost the team its finish. The first, on Lap 24, saw Turn 11 of the street course turn into a parking lot, as Wheldon was the last on the scene of a pileup that included Mario Moraes, Justin Wilson, Darren Manning and Hideki Mutoh. His National Guard car was undamaged in the incident, and after some assistance from the Delphi Safety Team, the team was fortunate enough to come away with no damage or lost laps. He returned to the field in 12th position after a restart on Lap 28.

Wheldon climbed to ninth prior to a caution on Lap 39 for contact involving Ed Carpenter and the team elected not to make a pit stop during the cleanup. It was the team's decision to pit on Lap 51, just two laps prior to another full-course caution, that put a Top Five finish within sight. Technical Director David Cripps was repeating to his driver over the radio that he must conserve fuel to make it to the checkered flag, but Moraes brought out the event's final yellow flag, under which Scott Dixon and Ryan Briscoe had contact, that allowed the team to race until the end.

With under five laps remaining, one final incident was averted when Andretti Green Racing driver Marco Andretti foolishly attempted to pass the No. 4 car on the inside of Turn 11, making slight contact with Wheldon's right-rear wheel. There was no apparent damage to the National Guard machine, and the former Indianapolis 500 winner was able to pull away from Andretti by over a second for his 55th career Top Five finish.

The result was Panther's first Top Five finish since Kentucky Speedway last season, and was Wheldon's best finish on a street course since a podium finish at Belle Isle in 2007.

The IndyCar Series will travel to Kansas Speedway next weekend for the Road Runner Turbo Indy 300, which will be held on Sunday, April 26th and broadcast live on Versus, the IMS Radio Network, www.indycar.com, and XM Sirius Channel 211.

Wheldon is the two-time defending champion of the race, and will look to tie an IndyCar Series record shared by himself (Homestead-Miami Speedway) and former teammate Scott Dixon (Watkins Glen International Raceway) for consecutive victories at the same racetrack. Panther has registered three podium finishes of its own at Kansas, most recently in 2006 when the team finished third. Sam Hornish Jr. collected runner-up finishes at the track in 2001 and 2002, both seasons in which he collected league championships for Panther.

Wheldon and his National Guard Panther Racing conducted a one-day test at Kansas last week, and the team was very happy with the balance of its racecar, and the speeds it was able to post at the 1.5-mile oval. Practice for the event begins next Saturday.

Dan Wheldon, No. 4 National Guard Dallara Honda

"So far the Panther team has done a fantastic job calling the races, and certainly it was a different race; there wasn't a lot of passing out there. Once I got off the black tires, which I really struggled with rotating the car and getting good power down, it really came alive. Once the track rubbered-in that helped us as well. But the National Guard Panther Racing team did a really good job, I thought we were pretty competitive all weekend. Everybody worked hard and did a good job in terms of the pit stops, and it was a tough race and a race of attrition, but we made it to a Top Five. It was important for us to score points going into Kansas, because that's a race I'm very confident about, but the IndyCar Series is so competitive now that you can't count your points too early. "

John Barnes, Panther Racing CEO and Managing Partner:

"Our goal for the weekend was to get a Top Five in Long Beach and then win next weekend in Kansas. We're excited about going to Kansas Speedway next weekend and then Indianapolis after that. We really enjoyed racing in Long Beach, the crowd was incredible, the atmosphere was incredible and we really take our hats off to the folks with the Long Beach Grand Prix for making this such a great event for the IndyCar Series."
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Postby mlittle » Thu Apr 23, 2009 12:41 pm

Panther Racing--Kansas Preview


~~~Wheldon Set for 100th Career IndyCar Series Start in Kansas; Two-Time Defending Kansas Speedway Winner Looks to Score National Guard its First IndyCar Win

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (April 22, 2009) -- Panther Racing driver Dan Wheldon is preparing for his 100th career IndyCar Series start this weekend at Kansas Speedway, where the National Guard driver is the two-time defending race winner. The former league and Indy 500 champion will attempt to duplicate the IndyCar record shared by himself (Homestead-Miami Speedway) and former teammate Scott Dixon (Watkins Glen International Raceway) by winning three consecutive races at the same track.

Preparations for the Road Runner Turbo Indy 300 begin with practice and qualifications prior to the race on Sunday. Wheldon is flying to Kansas City a day early to visit the National Guard's Kansas headquarters in Topeka, and also to make an appearance Friday night at the MLS Kansas City Wizards match against the New York Red Bulls.

Dating back to 2005, Wheldon has never finished outside the top two positions at Kansas. The track suits his style of driving well, and in addition to victories there in 2007 and 2008, Wheldon finished runner-up in 2005 and 2006. He enters the weekend in seventh in the IndyCar Series point standings and coming off a Top Five finish on the Streets of Long Beach. His result at Long Beach was his best finish on a street course since a podium result at Belle Isle in 2007.

Wheldon has led over half (216 of 400) of the laps run at Kansas in the past two seasons.

In 99 career IndyCar Series starts, Wheldon has collected 15 victories -- third in series history -- and has finished in the Top Five in over half (55) of his starts. He has led 2,748 laps since making his first career start in 2002, with Panther at Chicagoland Speedway.

Panther has had similar success at the 1.5-mile oval, although a trip to victory lane has been elusive. Most recently, the team scored a podium finish there in 2006, and twice finished runner-up with former driver Sam Hornish Jr. in 2001-02. The team also led 63 laps at Kansas in 2005 with former driver Tomas Scheckter, who finished in fifth place that year.

The Road Runner Turbo Indy 300 will be held on Sunday, April 26th and broadcast live on Versus, the IMS Radio Network, www.indycar.com, and XM Sirius Channel 211.

Dan Wheldon, No. 4 National Guard Dallara Honda

"The Kansas race is one that I'm very confident about, and if you look back at Panther's results on the 1.5-mile ovals they're very, very strong. It's going to be a very intense race. Each year the track tends to lose a little bit of grip, so you're going to have to work hard on having a good handling race car across the seams that the track has. I like to run the car a little more on edge than what Panther is accustomed to, so we're working to find that balance where we are still fast, but the car is strong throughout the race. At Kansas, you want to have a car that is quick out front, and I felt we had that in the test there recently. Certainly with the development that we have in mind and even the experience that we have at Kansas and the experience we'll take out of Kansas, I think we'll certainly have one eye on Indianapolis as well."

(On his 100th start) "I've very much enjoyed the IndyCar Series. I think it's certainly evolved since I first raced here in 2002 with Panther. The competition level now is very, very intense. I think even with the tough economic times that we have ahead of us, the series continues to thrive, and with partners like the National Guard being involved with Panther Racing, with Honda and Firestone and Dallara, I expect it to get stronger and stronger. I hope that I can do many more races, but I think the one thing that I've learned in those 100 races is how good that milk tastes at Indy, and I'd definitely like to taste it again."
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Postby mlittle » Sun Apr 26, 2009 7:21 pm

Wheldon Guns for Kansas Three-Peat from Ninth Position; National Guard Driver Shoots for Pole Position, Settles For Top Ten Starting Spot

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (April 25, 2009) -- Two-time defending Kansas Speedway winner Dan Wheldon will set sights on an IndyCar Series record three-peat on Sunday afternoon from the ninth position. Wheldon, who has finished inside the top two for four consecutive seasons, will attempt to tie his own IndyCar record for consecutive wins at one track, and most career wins at one track. Wheldon (Homestead-Miami Speedway) and his former teammate Scott Dixon (Watkins Glen International Raceway) hold the current IndyCar Series records in those respective categories.

Wheldon was the pole-sitter here in 2006, his first season with Ganassi, when he finished runner-up. Last year the Briton was on the outside of the front row and had started fourth in 2007, the first season he won the Kansas event.

For Panther, Vitor Meira started 10th here last season before an incident in pit lane ended his run in 22nd position. Panther's best career start on the 1.5-mile oval came in 2002 when Sam Hornish Jr. started on the front row before a collecting a second-place finish, which was the second consecutive year Hornish was runner-up in the event.

The Road Runner Turbo Indy 300 will be held on Sunday, April 26th and broadcast live on Versus, the IMS Radio Network, www.indycar.com, and XM Sirius Channel 211.

Dan Wheldon, No. 4 National Guard Dallara Honda

"We were incredibly loose in qualifying, but that's because we really decided to attack and have a run for the pole. The National Guard Panther Racing car will be strong for the race, obviously there are opportunities to overtake here. We decided we were going to be aggressive, and it caught us out a bit, but that's part of it. It wasn't the wind really, it was just a shame that we were too loose. We haven't had much running yet, but we'll work on things in the morning warm-up tomorrow and make sure we're strong for the race. It's one of those things and it's certainly going to be an exciting race for fans of the IndyCar Series. I always seem to go well around here, so we're excited about our potential."
Last edited by mlittle on Tue Apr 28, 2009 1:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby mlittle » Tue Apr 28, 2009 1:52 am

----Panther's Wheldon Captures Top Ten Finish at Kansas Speedway
National Guard Driver Fights Balance After Front Roll Bar Locks, Finishes 10th on Oval

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (April 26, 2009) -- Panther Racing driver Dan Wheldon overcame a mechanical problem on his National Guard car Sunday in the Road Runner Turbo Indy 300 to finish 10th-place at Kansas Speedway, his second straight Top Ten result. Wheldon started ninth for the event, and moved within the Top Five competitors early in the race before his front roll-bar locked in the full-stiff position, which affected the balance of his car.

The team is now tied for the 10th position in the IndyCar Series point standings with Team Penske driver Helio Castroneves. Wheldon remains just 34 points out of the championship lead, one point closer to the points lead following a Top Five finish in Long Beach last weekend.

Wheldon moved quickly from his starting position of ninth and passed into the Top Five by Lap 42, but was unable to maintain that position as the handling of the car worsened. He continued to fight, even winning a three-wide battle with Hideki Mutoh and other competitors on the final restart of the race on Lap 159, but the team had to settle for a 10th place result.

At the conclusion of the race, defending league champ Scott Dixon was victorious -- overcoming back-to-back DNFs to start the season -- followed by Castroneves and Tony Kanaan.

The next IndyCar Series event is the 93rd Running of the Indianapolis 500, which will be held on May 24th from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Panther will expand to two-cars for the event, as former Indy polesitter Scott Sharp will team with Wheldon to drive the No. 16 Tequila Patron entry. Panther finished runner-up in the '500' last season, its best career result in the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. Wheldon was the 2005 winner of the Indy 500, and has started on the front row in three of his six starts on the historic 2.5-mile oval.

Dan Wheldon, No. 4 National Guard Dallara Honda

"The front roll bar locked itself up in fully stiff position, which created an imbalance in the National Guard car and we had to battle with it all day. To be honest I just lacked a little pace at times, and because of the imbalance in the car I just couldn't get close to anybody. Everybody at Panther is incredibly disappointed, and we know we have several changes to make before Indianapolis. In this league, it's so competitive and we're going to work to get better as a group."
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Postby mlittle » Wed May 06, 2009 9:49 am

Panther to Debut Camo Livery on Wheldon's National Guard Car at Indianapolis
Team Honors Late Lloyd Ruby with Style of No. 4; Car Runs at Indianapolis Wednesday Afternoon

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (May 5, 2009) -- When practice opens Wednesday for the 93rd Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, IndyCar Series participants will get their first look at the new livery sported on Panther Racing driver Dan Wheldon's No. 4 National Guard Honda Dallara.

Or, maybe they won't be able to see it at all.

The team announced today that Wheldon's car will be full National Guard ACU digital camo, parking the trademark red, white and blue paint scheme that has become the signature livery of the Panther No. 4 since the National Guard was introduced as a primary sponsor in 2008. The new paint scheme will be featured in this month's Indianapolis 500, the race at Watkins Glen -- held on the Fourth of July weekend -- and two other IndyCar Series events this season.

The style of the car's No. 4 was changed as well, to honor the late Lloyd Ruby, who passed away earlier this year.

"Obviously anytime you get to race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indianapolis 500, which is in my opinion the biggest sporting event in the world, it's a tremendous honor," Wheldon said. "But being able to compete in that great event with the colors of the National Guard and in a camo No. 4 car is extremely special, and an important responsibility for all of us at Panther Racing."

In addition, Wheldon is wearing a camouflage drivers' suit, made out of the same camo Nomex fire-retardant material National Guard Soldiers wear while serving the Nation.

"I don't think I look too bad in camo myself," Wheldon joked.

Barnes also changed the style of Panther's No. 4 to honor the late Lloyd Ruby, the 18-time Indianapolis 500 starter who passed away in March of this year. Ruby started the 1969 Indianapolis 500 with the No. 4, and Barnes used the style of Ruby's number that season to honor the popular Texan.

"It's always important to recognize the history of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and all the people who have been a part of making both the track itself and the Indianapolis 500 such a celebrated and historic event," Panther team owner John Barnes said. "Obviously we're thrilled to have a camouflage car this month to celebrate the over 367,000 Soldiers in the National Guard, but we also wanted to honor Lloyd Ruby and what he's meant to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway."

Practice for the Indianapolis 500 begins on Wednesday for veteran drivers, but both Wheldon's teammate Scott Sharp -- driving the No. 16 Tequila Patron entry -- and the team's Firestone Indy Lights drivers, Martin Plowman and Pippa Mann, will be on track today.

Wheldon will be gearing to qualify for the 93rd Indy 500 during Saturday's pole day qualifications. The Englishman is the 2005 winner of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing, and has qualified on the front row in three of his six career starts at Indianapolis. Panther finished runner-up in the race last year with former driver Vitor Meira. The team qualified eighth last season with the No. 4 National Guard entry.

This month will mark the first time Panther has had multiple entries in the '500' since 2007, when it ran Meira, Kosuke Matsuura and John Andretti.
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Postby mlittle » Thu May 07, 2009 11:38 am

Scott Sharp Second-Quick in Indianapolis Motor Speedway Refresher

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (May 5, 2009) -- It didn't take Tequila Patron driver Scott Sharp very long to get re-acclimated to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's 2.5-mile oval Tuesday during a refresher session for the former IndyCar Series co-champion. Sharp, the polesitter at Indianapolis in 2001, posted the second-quick overall time during the first on-track activity of the month, held specifically for rookies and veterans who have been away from the Indianapolis 500 for at least one season.

Sharp did not compete in the event in 2008, but showed no rust in getting his No. 16 Tequila Patron Dallara Honda up to speed. He posted a quick lap of 221.878 mph, 40.5628 seconds on the track, trailing only veteran driver Paul Tracy, who like Sharp was on track today for a refresher. A total of nine drivers turned laps on the day.

Sharp will join teammate, and former Indy 500 winner, Dan Wheldon on the track tomorrow, as the track opens for all competitors vying for a spot in the 33-car field at 2 p.m. Pole day qualifications are this Saturday.

Scott Sharp, No. 16 Tequila Patron Dallara Honda

"First time I came down the backstretch I rolled it into Turn Three and thought, 'OK, no problem, I'm back in the groove again.' It feels like I just left. I wasn't sure how long it was going to take me, but it feels great to be back at Indianapolis with Tequila Patron and Panther Racing. There was obviously a lot of anticipation and a lot of excitement surrounding the whole opportunity with these guys. To get out here and finally start doing it today, it was great. It feels so good to be back here, because watching last year on TV wasn't a lot of fun. By the first lap, it felt like I was back in the old shoe again."
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Postby mlittle » Thu May 07, 2009 11:42 am

SCOTT SHARP BACK ON TRACK AT INDY ABOARD TEQUILA PATRON PANTHER ENTRY

INDIANAPOLIS, IN, Wednesday, May 6, 2009: Indianapolis 500 veteran Scott Sharp made his return to the Speedway yesterday, completing his "refresher course" around the fabled 2.5 mile oval.

Sharp completed 26 laps with a best lap of 221.878mph (40.562 seconds) recorded on lap 20.

Sharp, Paul Tracy and Alex Lloyd completed their "refresher course" on track along with five rookies who underwent their Rookie Orientation Program for their Indy 500 debut.

Sharp is returning to the Indy 500 with a Tequila Patron-sponsored entry fielded by Panther Racing.

Panther finished second in last year's Indy 500 and is running Sharp's entry alongside their regular IndyCar Series driver, Dan Wheldon.

Sharp is tackling a busy month of May - combining his Indy 500 assault alongside his regular duties teamed with David Brabham at Patron Highcroft Racing in the American Le Mans Series aboard the Acura ARX-02a LMP1 car.

He is aiming to secure a place in the Indy 500 field on the opening weekend of qualifying as he will be at Miller Motorsports Park in Salt Lake City for the fourth round of the American Le Mans Series the following week.

Sharp enters this year's Indy 500 as one of the most experienced drivers in the field. Despite missing last year's 500, Sharp has 13 starts in the Memorial Day classic.

He scored the pole in 2001 and has a total of nine IndyCar wins. His best finish at the Indy 500 is sixth in 2007 - completing a run of three top 10 finishes in consecutive years.

The inaugural Indy Racing League co-champion has already been in the winner's circle in 2009 - taking victory with David Brabham for Patron Highcroft Racing at the Acura Sports Car Challenge American Le Mans Series event at St Petersburg.

Sharp will return to the track this afternoon in the #16 Tequila Patron entry when practice kicks off at the Speedway at 2:00pm

SCOTT SHARP
"On my first lap out it all came rushing back to me and I was able to slip straight into the groove into turn three on the out lap. It was just like I had never been away. It really felt like getting back on a bike - very familiar.

"It was great to put down a 221.878 mph lap and be second fastest on my return. Paul Tracy stole the fastest time but he came up and thanked me later because I gave him a huge tow at one stage out there.

"Working with the Panther guys has been great. The car is really well prepared with a lot of attention to detail. They had a solid plan for me yesterday with my refresher laps to get me up to speed.

"It was a very green track with a lot of young rookie drivers out there so I think we were smart in the way we went about things.

"We accomplished everything we wanted in regards to getting me comfortable in the car and getting a strong baseline to work off of for the rest of the week.

"Most of the first week will be about working on my comfort level and building on the speed. Getting a good qualifying set-up this week will be important before Saturday because the weather is looking a little ugly for the next few days with some showers and thunderstorms.

"We're probably going to concentrate harder on that earlier than we would normally because we don't know what the weather is going to do."
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Postby mlittle » Sat May 09, 2009 11:13 am

SUNNY SKIES WELCOME SHARP BACK ON TRACK AT INDIANAPOLIS

Scott Sharp INDIANAPOLIS, IN, Thursday, May 7, 2009: After completing his refresher class at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Tuesday, Scott Sharp returned to the track today aboard the #16 Tequila Patron entry for the first full rain-free day of practice.

Returning for his 14th assault on the Indianapolis 500, Sharp today recorded 47 laps with a fastest lap of 222.473mph aboard the Panther Racing-run entry.

This placed the Indy veteran 15th fastest overall out of the 32 car/drivers combinations that practiced today.

After rain cancelled yesterday's opening day, teams were able to complete a full days running - totalling 2199 laps.

Sharp will return to the track tomorrow for the final day of practice before qualifying kicks off on Saturday.

The first 11 slots on the 33-car grid will be decided on Saturday with the next 11 positions locked in on Sunday.

Sharp is aiming to secure his 14th Indianapolis 500
start this weekend as he will be in action for Patron Highcroft Racing the following week in the American Le Mans Series aboard the Acura ARX-02a LMP1 sportscar.

Scott Sharp
"I'm pretty pleased with the way the day went but I would have liked to have been a little further up the leaderboard with the Tequila Patron Panther entry.

"With a whole day of good weather, we didn't concentrate on going for an outright time today. However, it did amaze me how many guys got into full-on qualifying mode in their first day on the track.

"By the end of the day guys had their aero completely trimmed right out but we never got to that stage.

"With the Panther guys today we worked on a baseline set up and made quite a few changes throughout the day.

"During happy hour at the end of the day the guys made a bunch of changes. We went out to take a shot at a quick lap but we really ran out of time before the checkered flag came out.

"We got out with about 10 minutes to go but I really only got two laps in.

"It would have been really nice to finish the run and really see what we had but I think there is a lot more speed in the car. I think we should be in pretty good shape tomorrow.

"Many of the guys in front of me got a big draft to record their time. With that in mind, I feel pretty good and quite confident we will move up the leaderboard when it comes to putting down a qualifying run on our own."
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Postby mlittle » Sat May 09, 2009 11:22 am

Wheldon Has Eighth Quickest Speed on Indy's Fast Friday; Minor Accident Involving Tequila Patron Driver Scott Sharp Could Postpone Qualification Attempt until Sunday

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (May 8, 2009) -- It was a day of mixed results on Fast Friday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for Panther Racing and its Indianapolis 500 driver duo of Dan Wheldon and Scott Sharp. The day had started out well for the team until an accident involving Sharp in the short chute between Turns 1-2 concluded the day for the Tequila Patron team. The team is currently working on the damaged caused by the accident, and the plan is for Sharp's primary No. 16 car to be repaired and the 2001 polesitter to make his first qualification attempt during Sunday's qualifications.

Sharp had posted a top speed of 221.739 mph prior to the incident.

For the National Guard team, the car's overall speed was impressive despite Wheldon only running a total of 13 laps during the day. After the team's initial run in the morning, they pulled onto pit lane in the afternoon, but the track went yellow because of the rainfall and the team decided to call it a day.

After finishing sixth overall yesterday, Wheldon's top lap of 224.357 mph, 40.1146 seconds was good enough for eighth on the day's final speed chart.

Dan Wheldon No. 4 National Guard Dallara Honda

Dan Wheldon: We worked hard on the No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing car. It was one of those days where you perhaps didn't accomplish as much as you had liked because of the intermittent interruptions with rain. I think at this point you've got what you've got. Obviously, I would like to be pretty aggressive. At the same token, you have to remember the race is the thing that counts. Certainly, the Team Penske cars look incredibly strong. But I feel we're definitely a contender. We just have to get everything absolutely right. We'll see the development stuff that we have in store for tonight and how that performs tomorrow. It's great to be at the Speedway, and I'm certainly enjoying it. It would nice to be on the front row. I'd love the pole. I've never been on the pole here. I've sat on the front row a lot. By the same token, I think if you're on the pole or on the front row people remember you for a couple of weeks. I'd much rather win the race."

Scott Sharp No. 16 Tequila Patron Panther Dallara Honda

Scott Sharp: "We were on a sticker run. It was my second lap, pretty easy. I rolled down in there and the Tequila Patron car just snapped around on me. I'm not exactly sure what happened. We've been struggling a little big to gain more speed and didn't really need for this to happen right now. We'll see what the plan is and find a way to rebound."
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