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 ...
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."