Indy 500: Panther Racing Opening Day report

Wheldon Concludes Indianapolis Opening Day Fourth on Speed Chart Vision Racing Driver Ed Carpenter Gets Back Up to Speed; Finishes Seventh-Quick on the Day INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - (May 15, 2010) -- The four former Indianapolis 500 winners...

Wheldon Concludes Indianapolis Opening Day Fourth on Speed Chart

Vision Racing Driver Ed Carpenter Gets Back Up to Speed; Finishes Seventh-Quick on the Day

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - (May 15, 2010) -- The four former Indianapolis 500 winners entered in this year's event posed for photos together to kick off the Opening Day ceremonies Saturday afternoon at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and the same four drivers concluded the day atop the first-day speed chart. National Guard Panther Racing driver Dan Wheldon -- the 2005 winner of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing -- finished fourth amongst the 23 veteran IZOD IndyCar Series drivers who turned laps today.

Team newcomer Ed Carpenter, driving the No. 20 Fuzzy's Vodka entry that is a collaborative effort between Vision Racing and Panther, was impressive in his return to the IndyCar Series -- quickly getting back up to speed and finishing seventh on the day, with a top lap speed of 224.592 mph, 40.0726 seconds.

Wheldon turned just nine laps during the two-hours available for veterans, posting a quick lap of 225.609 mph, 39.8921 seconds. The No. 4 car's new ACU camo livery garnered its fair share of attention during its first day on the track. The team altered the all-ACU camo from last season, and this year added black, white and red to the scheme, making it stand out on the historic 2.5-mile oval.

Defending Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves finished atop the final speed chart today, and was followed by former winners Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon from Ganassi Racing.

Dan Wheldon, No. 4 National Guard Dallara Honda

"Our National Guard Panther Racing boys have done an extremely good job getting the No. 4 car ready for Indianapolis, and I think the new paint scheme for this month has got to be the best looking car out there. For the initial baseline that we did today the car ran very well. Obviously I've done this long enough to know that it doesn't make too much difference at this point, but we've started the month very well. Today's a day to make sure everything's running as it should, do a good system check, and continue to be disciplined in our plan. I'm really excited to be back here and I love this track; we've got a good chance of winning and that's because our boys have done such a good job of getting prepared for the race."

Ed Carpenter, No. 20 Fuzzy's Vodka Dallara Honda:

"We didn't put a lot of emphasis on speed today because it was all about shaking down the car, getting a baseline set up without focusing on lap times, and getting comfortable with the car and team. The team part is already there because I have worked with David (Cripps) and Al (Bodey) and Nathan (O'Rourke) before and the trust is already there making it easier to communicate and go out there with a good sense of confidence. Today everything went according to the plan we had laid out for ourselves. We'll focus on the race car set up at the start of the week and move towards putting more speed into it for qualifying as the week progresses. It's just so nice to be back on track. This Indy 500 race will actually be my 100th IndyCar series race and I am so very grateful for the opportunity thanks to the partnership we have with Panther this month and having Fuzzy Zoeller step in with his Vodka sponsorship as the last piece of the puzzle."

-source: pr

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Series INDYCAR