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."