2009 IRL Team Reports: Panther Racing

IRL Team reports for the 2009 IRL season

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Postby mlittle » Thu Jul 23, 2009 10:44 am

Panther Racing Gets Back on Track this Weekend at Edmonton
Following Off Weekend, Both IndyCar Series and Indy Lights Teams Return to Action

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - (July 21, 2009) - Panther Racing's IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights teams jump back into action this weekend at Edmonton's City Centre Raceway after a much-deserved weekend off. The team's National Guard IndyCar Series entry, piloted by former Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon, is preparing for its second start on the airport circuit, while the Indy Lights team will be making their first start on the 1.96-mile course.

Wheldon, currently in sixth position in the IndyCar Series championship, made his only career start on the Canadian temporary circuit last season with Ganassi Racing. He qualified in the ninth position and finished seventh. Panther finished 19th at the race there last season after former driver Vitor Meira made early contact with the tire barrier.

This weekend Wheldon will be making his 11th start of the season in the National Guard entry, and the 2005 league champion has already collected three Top Five and eight Top Ten finishes. His best finish of the season was a runner-up result in the 93rd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

The No. 4 car will be in its ABU Air Guard camouflage livery this weekend, the final time the car will be in camo this season. The team will return to the traditional red, white and blue paint scheme at Kentucky Speedway next weekend.

For Panther's Indy Lights team, Saturday's Edmonton race will be the first time the developmental league has competed on the airport circuit. Team rookies Martin Plowman and Pippa Mann will look to continue to climb the ranks in the championships standings, as both drivers have made gains in the point standings over the last few races. Currently Plowman is ranked 12th in the league, and Pippa is in the 16th spot in the standings.

Dan Wheldon, No. 4 National Guard Dallara Honda

"I enjoyed the Edmonton track last year and performed well there for my first time on the track. What I liked most about the race last year was the fans who came out to support the IndyCar Series. I had heard a lot about how fans in Canada supported IndyCar racing, but it was exciting to see their support and enthusiasm. I know everybody on the National Guard Panther Racing team has continued to work hard and we hope that pays off with another good result this weekend in Edmonton."

Martin Plowman, No. 15 Firestone Indy Lights

"This weekend we are flying to Edmonton for the second leg of our 'Canadian Tour' and I'm looking forward to having the chance to see the track up close. We showed a lot of progress in Toronto but because of one reason or the other we couldn't capitalize. Despite a good weekend we couldn't turn what we had into a top result, so it's time to show it in Edmonton. We can make up a lot of ground in the points and hopefully that will start this weekend."

Pippa Mann, No. 16 Firestone Indy Lights

"I'll be racing in Edmonton with a heavy heart - the death of Henry Surtees was such a major loss for the sport and British drivers around the world. It was a black weekend for motorsports. While life goes on, it's instances like these that make all of us realize how precious life really is and how dangerous this sport we love can be. My thoughts and prayers go out to the Surtees family during this difficult time.

(On the race) "I've been watching a lot of footage from the 08' IndyCar race in Edmonton to get some of the track tricks before we get there. The track is part of an airport strip and it's different than every track we've been to so far, but it looks like a cool place to race."
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Postby mlittle » Sat Jul 25, 2009 11:39 am

Practice Incident Puts Wheldon, Panther in Back-Up Car in Edmonton; Accident on Initial Laps of Afternoon Practice Collects Danica Patrick, Puts Team in No. 4-T Car

EDMONTON, Canada - (July 24, 2009) -- Panther Racing driver Dan Wheldon will be forced to qualify the team's No. 4-T National Guard back-up car in qualifications tomorrow for the Rexall Edmonton Indy, following a practice incident on the Edmonton City Centre Airport Circuit. The crash occurred as Wheldon exited the third turn of the 14-turn, 1.96-mile course, when his tires touched the grass and he spun into the temporary barrier between the third and fourth turns of the track.

The accident also collected Andretti Green Racing driver Danica Patrick, who made contact with the National Guard car while trying to avoid the incident on the grass inside of Turn Four.

The Rexall Edmonton Indy will be broadcast live on VERSUS at 5 p.m. (EST), with additional coverage provided by the IMS Radio Network, www.indycar.com and Sirius XM channel 211.

Dan Wheldon, No. 4 National Guard Dallara Honda

"I hit a curb which sent me to the other side of the track and a wheel went onto the grass and I ended up spearing it into the wall. It's unfortunate for the National Guard Panther Racing team. Our guys will build the car back up and we'll be back out there tomorrow. We thought we'd made some headway from the first session; we looked at the data and thought we knew where we needed to improve and felt pretty confident in that. But that was just my mistake and unfortunately I took Danica with me, which is a shame for her and the entire Andretti Green Racing team. We'll regroup and come out tomorrow strong."
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Postby mlittle » Sun Jul 26, 2009 8:33 pm

Wheldon Overcomes Friday Practice Crash, Qualifies for Rexall Edmonton Indy; Former Indy 500 Winner Looks to Make Climb from Back of Field on City Centre Airport Circuit

EDMONTON, Canada - (July 25, 2009) -- Dan Wheldon and the National Guard Panther Racing team overcame Friday's practice crash and qualified 22nd for tomorrow's Rexall Edmonton Indy at the Edmonton City Centre Airport Circuit. Wheldon, who currently stands sixth in the IndyCar Series championship standings, will look to make the long climb to the front of the field in the 95-lap race.

The team qualified its back-up car following an accident yesterday during the afternoon practice session. Despite missing the entire practice session, Wheldon posted a quick lap of 113.035 mph, 1:02.8369 seconds.

It will mark both Panther and Wheldon's second start on the 14-turn, 1.96-mile circuit, and it will be their 11th start of the 2009 season. The team has already collected three Top Five and eight Top Ten finishes, with a best result of second place in the 93rd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

Dan Wheldon, No. 4 National Guard Dallara Honda

"It was a difficult day. I'm a little baffled as to why we're as far off as we are here. Certainly we're going to take the time we need to look at everything we can to make the No. 4 car better for tomorrow, and to try and get the National Guard car up to the front in the race tomorrow."

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Postby mlittle » Tue Jul 28, 2009 12:54 pm

National Guard Driver Wheldon Finishes 15th in Rexall Edmonton Indy; Panther Racing Driver Improves from Starting Position, Finishes Clean on Airport Course

EDMONTON, Canada - (July 26, 2009) -- Panther Racing driver Dan Wheldon improved seven positions from his starting spot during Sunday's 95-lap Rexall Edmonton Indy at the City Centre Airport Circuit to finish in the 15th position. The race featured just one full-course caution as the IndyCar Series field had to drive through a 93-lap stretch of green-flag conditions that opened the race in the hot summer conditions.

Team Penske part-timer Will Power was the race winner, with teammate Helio Castroneves and Ganassi Racing driver Scott Dixon completing the podium.

Wheldon slipped one spot in the IndyCar Series championship chase, and now stands in seventh position, just behind Andretti Green Racing drivers Danica Patrick and Marco Andretti -- who is just four points ahead of Wheldon and the Panther team.

The team now makes preparations for next Saturday night's race at Kentucky Speedway, where the team was victorious in 2003 with Sam Hornish Jr. Panther started on the front row there last season with Vitor Meira, who led the race before finishing fourth. Wheldon finished fifth there last year, and twice finished on the podium on the 1.5-mile oval.

Dan Wheldon, No. 4 National Guard Dallara Honda

"It was just a very tough weekend, but drawing on the positives; at the end of the race, as rubber went down on the track, the National Guard Panther Racing car definitely came alive. So for us, that indicates the direction that we need to go in. So while the result today in Edmonton isn't as positive as we would have liked, there's certainly some information that we can build upon and for me personally, the physical training that I've done this year has definitely paid off because that was pretty much a green race today."

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Postby mlittle » Sat Aug 01, 2009 12:30 am

Panther Racing Looks For Positive Return to Kentucky Speedway Oval; Wheldon Still Eyes First Victory in No. 4 Car, Indy Lights Team Goes for Three Straight

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - (July 29, 2009) -- Kentucky Speedway has hosted some of Panther Racing's most memorable moments, and the team hopes to add to its highlight reel on the exciting 1.5-mile oval this weekend in the Meijer Indy 300. Both Panther's IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights teams have recorded pole positions and race victories at Kentucky, and now the team's 2009 driver lineup hopes to add even more hardware to the trophy case this weekend.

National Guard driver Dan Wheldon has been consistent in his first full season in Panther Racing's No. 4 car, and the season's final six races are comprised of some of Wheldon and Panther's best tracks. After slipping to seventh in the IndyCar Series point standings following a Canadian swing that featured races in both Toronto and Edmonton, the team looks to get back on track and get back into the top five championship contenders by season's end. Wheldon is currently just four points behind sixth-place Marco Andretti and 30 behind Danica Patrick.

The team's consistency is highlighted by Wheldon completing 1,810 of a possible 1,828 laps this season, more than any other driver in the series. His eight Top Ten finishes are second behind only Ganassi Racing teammates Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti, who have nine total.

Panther's Indy Lights team has won each of the past two races at Kentucky, in 2007 with Hideki Mutoh and last season with Dillon Battistini. Those drivers have led a staggering 132 of a possible 134 laps combined in those races, which each pilot leading all but one lap en route to their respective victories. Mutoh won from the pole in 2007 and Panther's only other Indy Lights race at Kentucky came in 2003, when Mark Taylor won the pole position, but did not start the race the following day due to illness.

In 13 career IndyCar Series starts in Kentucky, Panther has twice started from the pole, won the race in 2003 with Sam Hornish Jr. and has amassed a total of four podium, five Top Five and eight Top Ten finishes. In Firestone Indy Lights, Panther has two poles, two victories and has never finished outside the Top Five. Wheldon has four Top Five finishes in his six starts at Kentucky, including three podium finishes and a best finish of third in 2004 and 2005. He finished fifth there last year with Ganassi.

Dan Wheldon, No. 4 National Guard Dallara Honda

"When you look at all the races coming up, both myself and Panther Racing have had good results there. We should have competitive equipment on the No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing car and I hope to be driving well because Kentucky is the type of place where we should be good. We've been doing our homework and I'm pretty hopeful after looking at what happened at Toronto and Edmonton, we know the areas where we need to continue to work and that will only help us at places like Kentucky. Honestly, it should help us at all the tracks we go to, especially now that we know the path we need to follow."

Martin Plowman, No. 15 Firestone Indy Lights

"After this stint of street courses I'm looking forward to get back on the 1.5 mile ovals. Back in the beginning of the year we had a good Top Five result in Kansas nearly missing a podium, so I can't wait to get to Kentucky this weekend to get the result that we've been promising in the last few weeks."

Pippa Mann, No. 16 Firestone Indy Lights

"I'm happy to go to Kentucky this weekend, a track that Panther had tremendous success in the past two years, winning with Dillon in 08 and Hideki in 07. I had a tough break the last time we went to a 1.5 mile track, so I'm looking forward to capitalizing on Panther's achievements at Kentucky and bring home a good result."
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Postby mlittle » Sat Aug 01, 2009 2:18 pm

Kentucky Qualifications Cancelled; Wheldon to Start 7th Sunday

Persistent Weeper on Kentucky's 1.5-mile Oval Postpones IndyCar, Indy Lights Activities

SPARTA, Kentucky - (July 31, 2009) -- A persistent weeper on Kentucky Speedway's 1.5-mile oval forced the cancellation of all on-track activities for both the IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights on Friday, which will put Panther driver Dan Wheldon in the seventh starting position for tomorrow night's Meijer Indy 300.

Firestone Indy Lights driver Martin Plowman will start 14th. Teammate Pippa Mann was transported to St. Elizabeth South Hospital after experiencing abdominal pain Friday afternoon. After an evaluation, Pippa was released and returned to the racetrack. She will be re-evaluated in the morning to determine if she will drive in tomorrow's Kentucky 100. If she is unable to race, Indy Lights race winner Arie Luyendyk Jr. will drive the No. 16 car in the race.

The starting positions for both races were determined by entrant points.

Dan Wheldon, No. 4 National Guard Dallara Honda

"We're basing everything for tomorrow off Vitor Meira's performance here last year, and obviously he was very strong -- so that's good. Honestly, it's unfortunate for all the fans who came out there today. There was a lot of National Guard folks out here today and a large group from the Youth ChalleNGe program that I enjoyed spending time with that I wouldn't have been able to otherwise. But, for tomorrow, I'm just excited about getting into the National Guard Panther Racing car and seeing what we've got."
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Postby mlittle » Mon Aug 03, 2009 8:48 pm

Wheldon Finishes 11th in Kentucky Speedway Thriller
Panther Remains in Seventh Position in IndyCar Series Points Standings, Heads to Mid-Ohio

SPARTA, Kentucky - (August 1, 2009) -- Panther Racing driver Dan Wheldon finished 11th Saturday evening at Kentucky Speedway in the Meijer Indy 300. The race, which was run under the threat of rain for the duration of the 200 laps, featured a thrilling trademark IndyCar Series finish between eventual winner Ryan Briscoe and Vision Racing driver Ed Carpenter.

The field for the event was set on entrant points after persistent weepers cancelled all on-track activity Friday, putting Wheldon's No. 4 car in the seventh position at the start. Panther's driver fought a push in the first stint of the race, causing him to lose several positions. Adjustments made during each of the team's first two pit stops improved the car significantly, but the race had just one caution flag, which made it difficult for the team to make up many positions during the night.

Wheldon is now tied with Andretti Green Racing driver Tony Kanaan for seventh position in the IndyCar Series points championship, and is just five points behind Kanaan's AGR teammate Marco Andretti.

Briscoe captured his second win of the season, with Vision's Carpenter finishing just 0.0162 seconds behind -- which marked the closest finish in the history of Kentucky Speedway. Kanaan was third with Team Penske's Helio Castroneves concluding the race in fourth.

The team will travel to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course next weekend.

Dan Wheldon, No. 4 National Guard Dallara Honda

"It was a difficult night for the National Guard Panther Racing team and certainly not what we were expecting coming into Kentucky this weekend. But we have to keep fighting. We have all the right components here at Panther and it's a matter of taking advantage of what we have and getting everything right during the race weekend. There is a lot of the season left and the work starts next weekend in Mid-Ohio."
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Postby mlittle » Fri Aug 07, 2009 6:17 am

Panther Racing Prepares for Weekend Battle at Mid-Ohio

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - (August 5, 2009) -- Panther doesn't have to travel far this weekend for the IndyCar Series' upcoming Honda Indy 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course -- located just a few hours from Indianapolis, and even closer to the location of last weekend's race at Kentucky Speedway. Panther hopes a return to the 13-turn, 2.258-mile circuit, where they led the race and finished sixth last season, will help propel them back to the top side of the grid.

National Guard driver Dan Wheldon will be making his third start at the track, and has a best career finish of 10th, recorded in 2007 while driving for Ganassi Racing. Wheldon has collected three Top Five and eight Top Ten results this season, and the 2005 Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar Series champion looks to return to the front of the field this weekend. He ranks seventh in the IndyCar Series championship chase, tied with Andretti Green Racing driver Tony Kanaan.

Wheldon was taken out of the first race of the season by Robert Doornbos in St. Petersburg, but has since finished every race, a stretch that included eight-consecutive Top Ten finishes until a 14th-place finish in Toronto.

The Firestone Indy Lights race will be held on Sunday afternoon and will feature Panther's two-car lineup of Martin Plowman and Pippa Mann. Plowman is coming off a ninth-place finish in Kentucky, which marked his third Top Ten finish of the season. He currently ranks 12th in the Indy Lights points championship and Mann is in the 15th position, just two points away from moving up a spot in the chase.

Both drivers tested at Mid-Ohio earlier in the season, but the track conditions were very wet due to rain storms.

Dan Wheldon, No. 4 National Guard Dallara Honda

"We learned a lot in Edmonton about the direction in which we need to work on our road course package and we're going to work on that starting this weekend at Mid-Ohio. It's a fun track and I'm looking forward to returning there with the National Guard Panther Racing team. We haven't had the results that perhaps we've wanted the past few weekends, but all the guys have been working hard and we hope to roll off the truck strong on Friday and have a good race."

Martin Plowman, No. 15 Firestone Indy Lights

"We're back to a road course this weekend and I'm looking forward to getting some laps around the Mid-Ohio track. We had a test not long ago over there, but the weather was awful and we got rained out. I got a good feeling of the track and hopefully we can continue the progress that we are making on our road course setup to get the Top Five we are looking for."

Pippa Mann, No. 16 Firestone Indy Lights

"We went for a test in Mid-Ohio in the beginning of June but unfortunately we could only run for half a day due to the bad weather. We were able to get some laps in and the track seems to be cool and it reminds me of the kind of track that I used to race back in Europe. The Lights cars will only get a 45 minute practice before qualifying, so we'll be against the clock to get the car dialed in for the race."
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Postby mlittle » Mon Aug 10, 2009 2:43 am

Wheldon Qualifies 17th for Panther Racing at Mid-Ohio

LEXINGTON, Ohio - (August 8, 2009) -- A late-morning rain storm dampened the final minutes of IndyCar Series practice Saturday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, but the course dried in time for afternoon qualifications for both the IndyCar Series. National Guard driver Dan Wheldon was eliminated in the first round of qualifications for tomorrow's Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio and will start in the 17th position.

Wheldon posted a top lap speed of 118.121 mph, 1:08.8176 seconds, and the former Indy 500 winner will be making his third start at Mid-Ohio tomorrow afternoon.

The team started 11th here last season with Vitor Meira, and the team's driver moved quickly to the front of the field when the team pitted on the first lap for dry tires, after the entire field started on wet Firestones to begin the race. Meira led a total of 21 laps before finishing sixth.

Wheldon has collected three Top Five and eight Top Ten finishes this season, his first full season with Panther. His best finish of the season is a second-place result at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The Honda Indy 200 will be broadcast live on VERSUS Sunday at 1p.m. (EST), with additional coverage provided by the IMS Radio Network, www.indycar.com and Sirius XM channel 211.

Dan Wheldon, No. 4 National Guard Dallara Honda

"We're still fighting the same handling characteristics in the car, but the good thing about the National Guard Panther Racing team is that they continue to work hard and that's the best we can do. We've had a bad few weekends here, but we're going to continue to look forward and not backward and hopefully we'll be able to make a good race of it."
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Postby mlittle » Sun Aug 23, 2009 3:17 am

Panther Prepares to Attack Infineon as IndyCar Season Nears Conclusion

Positive Test in Sonoma Last Week has Wheldon, Panther Confident Entering Race Weekend

Sonoma, Calif. - (August 21, 2009) -- A strong test session last Thursday at Infineon Raceway has infused confidence into the crewmen of Panther Racing and driver Dan Wheldon. After mid-pack results in several road and street course events in the last month, the team posted the third-quick time during Thursday's test session, and more importantly, both driver and team came away from the racetrack with a good feeling for Sunday's IndyCar Series race.

At the track on Friday, Wheldon was treated to a ride in a Black Hawk helicopter from California Adjutant General William Wade and several other members of the California National Guard. Wheldon met with roughly 50 Soldiers who attended set-up day activities and took an IndyCar Experience two-seater ride on Infineon's complex 2.303-mile circuit. Of those Soldiers, SPC Daniel Gerfen, a resident of Chico, Calif., is the Panther Racing National Guard "Hometown Hero" for the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma race weekend.

Gerfen, assigned to the 649th Engineer Company of the California Army National Guard, will be recognized during driver introductions on Aug. 23 and will join Wheldon at the autograph session tomorrow. Gerfen was deployed in 2007 to Camp Bucca Iraq in support Operation Iraqi Freedom VII, during which time he was charged with recovering vehicles damaged by improvised explosive devices among other duties. He works for Valley Tractor, which was supportive of his National Guard service and his mission overseas. SPC Gerfen was recently recognized by the City of Chico and Mayor Andy Holcombe for outstanding service in his community and service abroad.

This weekend will feature both Sunday's IndyCar Series event and the Firestone Indy Lights race earlier in the day on Sunday. Wheldon finished fourth here last season with Ganassi Racing and Panther driver Vitor Meira finished in seventh position.

Dan Wheldon, No. 4 National Guard Dallara Honda

"The test we had here last week went very well, and this is a track that I like a lot. I'm coming off a fourth place finish from last year. I always seem to finish well here, and as it's the last road course of the season, it's one you want to finish out strongly so the next three races we can use the momentum at the next three ovals. Obviously both myself and Panther have had a lot of wins at the final three ovals, so we want to finish out the season strongly together."

Martin Plowman, No. 15 Firestone Indy Lights

"Obviously I'm excited about going to Sonoma on the back of the good result that we had in Mid-Ohio. For sure this will be the hardest race of the year physically and mentally for all the drivers, so I hope my training pays off and we continue to show the speed we've been showing lately, but with even better results."

Pippa Mann, No. 16 Firestone Indy Lights

"Sonoma was the first track that I had contact with Firestone Indy Lights, back in 2008 when I went to California to watch the race as a Panther guest. I didn't get a chance to drive there last year, but I'm looking forward to get in the car on Saturday for practice. A friend of mine from Facebook found me a good luck dollar while he was on vacation, so I hope it helps me out this weekend."
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Postby mlittle » Fri Aug 28, 2009 12:14 am

Panther Driver Wheldon Qualifies 12th for Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma

Sonoma, Calif. - (August 21, 2009) -- Panther Racing driver Dan Wheldon advanced to the second round of qualifications Saturday at Infineon Raceway and will start 12th for tomorrow's Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma. The start is the team's second-best on a road and street course this season, only bested by 11th-place starts at St. Petersburg and Watkins Glen.

Wheldon posted a quick lap of 106.733 mph, 1:17.6782 seconds, and will start alongside Andretti Green Racing driver Danica Patrick. In the final stages of the second round, Wheldon was on pace to improve his position but was trailing Ryan Briscoe who went slightly off course on two occasions that slowed the No. 4 car. Tomorrow's 75-lap race will be the final non-oval event of the season, as the IndyCar Series championship will be decided on oval tracks at Chicagoland, Japan and Homestead -- courses that Wheldon (all three) and Panther (Chicagoland, Homestead) have been victorious on in the past.

The Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma will be held Sunday August 23 at 5 p.m. (EST) with live coverage provided by VERSUS and IMS Radio Network and Sirius XM channel 211.

Dan Wheldon, No. 4 National Guard Dallara Honda

"The team has done a really good job; we had a couple of bad races and it was frustrating for everybody involved. But we found something at Mid-Ohio in the race that definitely helped me get the feel I need from the racecar and since then we've had a really good run. We were quick in the test here last week and we've been quick yet today. I even felt like there was a touch more in the car, but the No. 4 National Guard team has worked really hard and we're hoping for a good race tomorrow where we can get back on track."
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Postby mlittle » Fri Aug 28, 2009 12:15 am

Broken Front Wing Costs Wheldon; Panther Finishes 12th at Infineon

National Guard Team Charges from 12th to 5th on First Lap, Fall Back For Late Wing Change

Sonoma, Calif. - (August 23, 2009) -- Dan Wheldon charged through the carnage during a first-lap crash at the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma Sunday at Infineon Raceway to catapult from a 12th-place starting position to fifth position, but contact incurred during the incident caused a wing flap to fall off later in the race, and forced the team into a 12th-place finish. Wheldon made slight contact with Scott Dixon during the first-lap melee, but the damage was not significant enough at the time to pit for a change.

Wheldon maintained fifth until he was overtaken by Mario Moraes on Lap 13, but he held on to sixth place as the field cycled through the first round of pit stops. The wing damage from the first-lap incident continued to worsen as the race progressed, and just before the second -- and final -- round of stops, it began to adversely affect the car's handling. After slipping to eighth after the team's last stop, Wheldon was battling with Justin Wilson when the entire left-front wing flap came off the car. Wheldon attempted to continue with the damage, but was unable to maintain track position and he pulled to pit lane on Lap 65 so the Panther crew could make the front wing assembly change.

After returning to the track, Wheldon was able to improve three positions during a five-lap shootout to the checkered flag following a restart after a full-course caution involving Helio Castroneves. Dan passed two cars on track and was awarded an additional position after Marco Andretti was penalized for avoidable contact on the final lap.

Ganassi Racing driver Dario Franchitti collected a dominant victory in the race, and was joined on the podium by Team Penske driver Ryan Briscoe and Mike Conway.

The IndyCar Series will travel to Chicagoland Speedway for next Saturday night's Peak Antifreeze & Motor Oil Indy 300, which will be broadcast live on Versus at 9 p.m. with additional coverage provided by IMS Radio Network and Sirius XM Channel 211.

Dan Wheldon, No. 4 National Guard Dallara Honda

"It was a shame because everybody in the National Guard team has really been working hard, and it was a little unfortunate that the front wing broke, but that's life. The good thing is that we're competitive again, which we carried over from the Mid-Ohio race. These next three tracks are tracks that we're all really strong at, so we can really pull some positives out of today and move on to Chicago."
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Postby mlittle » Sun Aug 30, 2009 6:00 am

Panther, Wheldon Hope to Add to Chicagoland Trophy Case
Team and Driver Want to Share Victory in Joliet after Collecting Wins in 2002-03 and 2005-06

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - (August 27, 2009) -- Panther Racing and National Guard driver Dan Wheldon share a total of four race victories at Chicagoland Speedway's thrilling 1.5-mile oval, and the driver/team combination hope to make a victory lap together this weekend in the PEAK Antifreeze & Motor Oil Indy 300.

Most recently, Wheldon captured back-to-back victories at the Joliet racetrack in 2005 and again in 2006, when he was fighting for his second consecutive IndyCar Series championship. Wheldon's victory in 2006 concluded the season with him tied in points with Sam Hornish Jr., but the title went to the Team Penske driver because he had more victories than Wheldon that year.

And it was Hornish who helped Panther secure two of its most thrilling victories in team history at Chicagoland -- including the closest 1-2 finish in series history (by 0.0024 over Al Unser Jr. in 2002) and the closest 1-2-3 finish, by 0.0100 over Scott Dixon and Bryan Herta the following year in 2003. Panther also collected a victory in Firestone Indy Lights in 2003 with Mark Taylor, a feat they hope to repeat this weekend with the driver tandem of Martin Plowman and Pippa Mann.

Wheldon's Helmet Designed by St. Vincent Children's Hospital Patient

Every year during the Month of May, Panther driver Dan Wheldon visits the Peyton Manning Children's Hospital at St. Vincent to visit with children and parents that are patients there. He also holds a contest with the kids, asking them to design a helmet and write a story about themselves. Wheldon selects the most inspiring story and has his helmet painted with the child's design.

Last year, the young patient Wheldon selected was able to attend the Milwaukee race and watch the IndyCar Series event with Wheldon wearing the helmet that she designed. This year, the nine-year-old cancer patient that Wheldon selected was unable to attend the Milwaukee race due to treatments and he held out hope she could come to this weekend's event at Chicagoland, but unfortunately, she could not make the trip. Wheldon will wear the uniquely-painted helmet this weekend in her honor.

Dan Wheldon, No. 4 National Guard Dallara Honda

"Chicago is obviously an exciting track where you can pass, so it should be a really good show for fans of the IndyCar Series. It's also a track where I've gone quite well in the past, and the team has won here multiple times as well. We continue to make strides as a group and we hope to roll off the truck well here this weekend and put the No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing car in victory lane."

Martin Plowman, No. 15 Firestone Indy Lights

"I'm really psyched for the race in Chicago. Last race we saw the weekend going away from us, starting the week very strong and letting it go away towards the end. It obviously wasn't what we wanted to achieve. But now we have two ovals and our focus is to put all of our efforts into these last races and get good results before the end of the season."

Pippa Mann, No. 16 Firestone Indy Lights

"I'm really looking forward to getting back on a speedway oval track this weekend at Chicago. Although the ovals this year haven't been kind to me in terms of results, we've been fast at every speedway we've been to, including last time out in Kentucky, and I'm looking to put that lack of results right! We had a great car in the race in Kentucky, and while I haven't seen Chicagoland, I have been told it is a very similar layout, so hopefully we can carry that strong performance forwards and this time bring home a result."
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Postby mlittle » Sun Aug 30, 2009 6:01 am

Wheldon Qualifies in 11th Position for Saturday Shootout in Chicago
Two-time Chicagoland Speedway Winner Ready for Tomorrow Night's IndyCar Series Event

Joliet, Ill. - (August 28, 2009) -- Panther Racing driver Dan Wheldon qualified 11th for tomorrow night's IndyCar Series shootout at Chicagoland Speedway, and will start on the inside of the sixth row for the PEAK Antifreeze & Motor Oil Indy 300. Wheldon has captured two victories at Chicago during his IndyCar career, scoring back-to-back wins in 2005 and 2006.

Wheldon highlighted the race here last season by going three-wide for multiple laps with the Team Penske duo of Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe before settling for a sixth-place finish. If the final IndyCar practice held Friday is any indication, tomorrow night's race should be another thriller with Panther's No. 4 car in the heat of the mix.

Chicagoland is the track where Wheldon made his first career IndyCar Series start, which was with Panther, in 2002. He collected a Top Ten finish that day, and finished in tenth position after starting seventh. Wheldon's teammate at Panther that day, Sam Hornish Jr., won the closest 1-2 finish in IndyCar Series history that day by edging out former two-time Indy 500 winner Al Unser Jr. by just 0.0024 of a second. The record stands to this day. Hornish came back the following year and won another thriller -- overcoming a late charge by Scott Dixon and Bryan Herta to win the closest 1-2-3 finish in history.

Tomorrow night will mark the Englishman's eighth career start at Chicagoland's exciting 1.5-mile oval, and he has four Top Five and six Top Tens in his previous seven appearances. This season Wheldon has collected three Top Five and eight Top Ten finishes during his first season back with Panther Racing. His best finish of the year was a runner-up result in the 93rd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

Dan Wheldon, No. 4 National Guard Dallara Honda

"It's not too bad, and everybody at the National Guard Panther Racing team is working really hard to get up there with the Penske and Ganassi guys. The car is handling really well, and I'm sure we're going to have a good racecar and we'll have good pit stops so we'll be able to get up there as the race goes on. It's great to be back at Chicagoland, I love this track and always seem to go well here. Each weekend we continue to improve as a group and if we're able to continue that trend, then we should do well at each of the last three racetracks. They've all been good to me over the years and we're hoping for our breakthrough win."
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Postby mlittle » Thu Sep 03, 2009 4:09 am

Broken Half-Shaft Ends Wheldon's Day in Chicago, Panther Finishes 22nd

Joliet, Ill. - (August 29, 2009) -- Dan Wheldon drove from 16th-place all the way up to seventh in one stint during yesterday's PEAK Antifreeze & Motor Oil Indy 300 at Chicagoland Speedway, only to suffer a broken half-shaft on the team's second pit stop of the day. Panther's No. 4 National Guard car did not return to competition, and the team finished in 22nd position.

It was only the second DNF for the team this season, dating back to the opening race of the season in St. Petersburg when Wheldon was knocked out of the race following on-track contact with Robert Doornbos. Entering the Chicagoland race weekend, Wheldon and Panther had completed more laps (2,169 of a possible 2,113) than any other driver/team combination in the series.

Wheldon qualified 11th for the race, and slipped back to 16th during the first stint of the race as Panther's driver struggled with front grip. A new set of Firestone tires and a front wing adjustment injected some life into the team's No. 4 car, as Wheldon returned to the field in 16th and quickly made a charge to the front. In the next 25 laps Wheldon passed nine cars, including all four Andretti Green Racing cars of Danica Patrick, Tony Kanaan, Marco Andretti and Hideki Mutoh, along with additional competitors Graham Rahal, Justin Wilson, Oriol Servia, Raphael Matos and Mario Moraes.

A yellow on Lap 92 for a single-car crash involving Mutoh packed the IndyCar field, and the National Guard team had a flawless pit stop, but as Wheldon went to launch back into pit lane the half-shaft on the No. 4 car broke and left the car lifeless in its pit box.

The IndyCar Series will take a break for the next two weekends before making the trip overseas for the Honda Indy Japan at Twin Ring Motegi.

Dan Wheldon, No. 4 National Guard Dallara Honda
"We lacked a little bit of front wing and were a little bit conservative at the start, but we put the wing back in our first pit stop and then had a great racecar. The car was working really well and once I got back to the front I was just sitting behind Tomas (Scheckter) and Ed (Carpenter) just trying to save as much fuel as possible to open our window a little bit, so we could have a shorter stop to get some track position. But unfortunately when I went to leave the pits I had both drive shafts break, which is something I've never had happen before. It's unfortunate, and one of those things, but we'll just move on."
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