Indy 500: Panther Racing Pole Day report

Panther, Wheldon Make the Show, Will Start 18th in 94th Indy 500 Teammate Ed Carpenter Qualifies for Top Nine Shootout, Will Start 8th on May 30th INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - (May 21, 2010) -- An exciting day of on-track action during Pole Day ...

Panther, Wheldon Make the Show, Will Start 18th in 94th Indy 500

Teammate Ed Carpenter Qualifies for Top Nine Shootout, Will Start 8th on May 30th

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - (May 21, 2010) -- An exciting day of on-track action during Pole Day qualifications Saturday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway concluded with both Panther Racing entries making the field for the 94th Running of the Indianapolis 500. Fuzzy's Vodka driver Ed Carpenter and his Vision Racing team qualified in the eighth position and National Guard Panther Racing driver Dan Wheldon solidified the 18th starting position on Sunday.

Wheldon had posted the seventh-quickest time during the morning warm-up session, but as the No. 4 National Guard car was waiting in the qualification line, sunshine broke through the clouds and the temperature increased, altering the track conditions.

Wheldon posted lap speeds of 225.047, 224.667, 224.314, 223.831 mph, which made for a four-lap average of 224.464 mph. This will be the second consecutive year that Panther's No. 4 car has started in 18th position, and the team hopes to have similar success as it did last season, when the team's pit crew helped Wheldon catapult all the way to a runner-up finish.

The team had intentions of making another qualifying run, but once the No. 4 car returned to the track it had a limited amount of track time before the qualification line filled with competitors, ending any more open practice time. Comfortably in the field, they decided not to withdraw their time and make another run with teammate Carpenter on the Top Nine bubble.

Carpenter made his original qualifying run with a four-lap average of 225.166 mph which held on for ninth throughout the afternoon despite several close attempts from other competitors to bump him out of the top-nine shootout. Former Panther driver Townsend Bell had nearly knocked Carpenter out of the ninth spot late in the day, but his times trailed off in his final two laps, securing Carpenter's position in the shootout.

Qualifying during the shootout, Carpenter turned in a conservative 224.507 four-lap average and moved up a position to the eighth spot. Team Penske driver Helio Castroneves took the pole position with a four-lap qualifying run average of 227.970 mph.

Dan Wheldon, No. 4 National Guard Dallara Honda:

"Obviously we were hoping to get a little more practice in, with the possibility of pushing the National Guard Panther Racing car into line, but at that point in time there were so many cars in line it just didn't allow for us to do that. If we would have made another run we would have had to take our original time out, and that would have been a bit risky for us because at the time we weren't completely sure of the balance of the car and so the decision was made not to do it. We've all been doing this long enough that we know what's important is how we finish in the race. I've said all along that the National Guard Panther boys have done a great job preparing for this month, and I'm confident we'll be well prepared for the race as well."

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

"Today I definitely feel like we earned our spot in the top-nine. The conditions were much different today and that caused the track temperature to get very hot so it was way different out here than any other day this past week. Everyone was struggling as a result and that meant that the guys that went out first had a little better conditions than the rest of the field. Those of us in the second half of the draw just really started struggling. So in my first attempt today, I felt like I could've crashed four times on my third lap alone; three times in Turn Four and once in Turn One. But that's what it's all about, it's qualifying at Indy and you've got to just suck it up and hang on to it. So that's what we did and I think at the end of the day I think being a little risky and taking chances in that first run is what got us into the top-nine shootout.

"It's been quite a year and the Panther (Racing) guys have done a great job helping me get here. I also can't thank Fuzzy Zoeller and Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka enough for making this happen along with DEEM and Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. Not to mention the fan support that kept us going too. We were so close to not even being here and now to be starting as far up in front as we are and with this good of a chance to win the race is awesome. I'm really grateful for all of the people who stepped up to make it happen."

-source: panther racing

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Townsend Bell , Dan Wheldon , Ed Carpenter
Teams Panther Racing