Panther Puts Both Wheldon, Carpenter on Kentucky Speedway Podium National Guard Driver Wheldon Dominates Meijer Indy 300, Loses Race to Team Penske Fuel Strategy SPARTA, Kentucky - (September 5, 2010) -- A dominant performance Saturday night in...
Panther Puts Both Wheldon, Carpenter on Kentucky Speedway Podium
National Guard Driver Wheldon Dominates Meijer Indy 300, Loses Race to Team Penske Fuel Strategy
SPARTA, Kentucky - (September 5, 2010) -- A dominant performance Saturday night in the Meijer Indy 300 by Panther Racing drivers Dan Wheldon and Ed Carpenter resulted in the two IZOD IndyCar Series veterans taking two of the top three spots on the Kentucky Speedway podium. A victory escaped the Panther and Vision Racing tandem only because of a fuel strategy victory by Team Penske and race winner Helio Castroneves, who never ran higher than seventh at any other point during the 200-lap event.
Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka driver Carpenter finished runner-up at Kentucky for the second straight year and Wheldon and the National Guard team finished in third place. It was the best finish amongst teammates in the 13-year history of the team, and it was the second IZOD IndyCar Series race where both drivers led the race -- the only two times in team history that has occurred.
Wheldon, whose No. 4 National Guard car dominated while leading a race-high 93 laps, captured his second-straight podium finish. If not for a late-race splash of fuel the former Indianapolis 500 winner and his Panther teammates would likely have been celebrating their first race win together. Wheldon started in third position, his best qualification effort as a member of Panther, and passed teammate Carpenter for the lead of the race on Lap 10 to put the No. 4 car in the lead of the race for the second consecutive week.
Carpenter and Wheldon ran 1-2 in the race until Lap 53 when the field began pulling in for green-flag pit stops. Once competitors cycled through, Wheldon found himself chasing championship leader Will Power for the lead of the race. Carpenter slipped back to 10th after a wing change during his first pit stop, but quickly sliced back through the field, passing Tony Kanaan, Marco Andretti and Dario Franchitti on his tear back into the Top Five of the race. Wheldon re-captured the lead after another round of green-flag pit stops on Lap 144 and was uncontested for the lead until competitors had to pit for a splash of fuel in the final five laps of the race.
A majority of the race leaders, including Wheldon, pitted on Lap 196 while Carpenter was able to squeeze one more lap of fuel out of the No. 20 car and pitted on Lap 197. Wheldon was able to beat out Franchitti and the other race leaders on his last stop, but both he and teammate Carpenter were chasing Castroneves to the checkered flag as the Brazilian was able to complete the race without making a final fuel stop.
With the finish the National Guard team moved into ninth position in the IZOD IndyCar Series championship chase, and climbed to within a single point of Andretti in eighth-place. Wheldon is now in fifth position in the standings for the oval championship, and trails Kanaan by 20 points for the fourth position.
Carpenter has led laps in two of his three starts with Panther/Vision and has run within the Top Five in each of his starts. He will not run in the next IZOD IndyCar Series event at Twin Ring Motegi, but will return in the No. 20 Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka entry for the final race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
The IZOD IndyCar Series will have one weekend off prior to traveling to Japan for the Indy Japan 300 at the 1.5-mile Twin Ring Motegi. The race will be broadcast on VERSUS on Saturday, September 18th at 10:30 p.m. (EST) with additional coverage provided by the IMS Radio Network, www.indycar.com, XM channel 145 and Sirius channel 121.
Dan Wheldon, No. 4 National Guard Dallara Honda
"When I beat Dario (Franchitti) out of the pits on our final fuel stop I thought, 'This is it.' But then obviously Team Penske had pulled another one of their tricks and got us on that one. I really thought we had that one, and we've been really strong in the last couple of races. I'm gutted that it didn't work out for us, but that's racing. My guys did an unbelievable job in the pits all night tonight. If I've learned anything from the National Guard Soldiers it's the 'Never Say Die' attitude and we never give up. We did a video conference with some troops that are in Afghanistan earlier today and hopefully they are smiling after what we accomplished today. I'm proud to represent all of those Soldiers, but I just wish we could have won this one for them. The fans were awesome tonight, and that's great for this racetrack; I love Kentucky Speedway. We've hit a really good stretch right now, and having Ed (Carpenter) on board in the Fuzzy's Vodka car has made a huge difference for us. He and I have formed a great relationship and you can see how much him coming to our team has helped. The National Guard team will come back strong at Motegi, that's a great racetrack and I have a lot of fond memories there from my relationship with Honda and we're expecting big things."
Ed Carpenter, No. 20 Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka
"This finish today is disappointing because the entire team was so strong all weekend. Dan (Wheldon) had a dominant car today, and it's so tough when you're in our position today to watch a guy win the race on fuel mileage. But, having said that, we're all very proud that there are two Panther cars on the podium. We made a pretty big wing change on the first stop that slowed us down, and that dropped us back, but I just stayed calm and got the Fuzzy's Vodka car back to the front. Dan and I can honestly say we had the best cars in the race, but the best car doesn't always win -- that's racing. The team didn't tell me (that Castroneves was on an alternate strategy) and my spotter was talking to me and telling me where Dan was, and for a second when I cycled in front of him I thought we were going to win. Then when I came to the front stretch I looked up at the pylon and saw the No. 3 up there and I was just praying he was going to run out of fuel. It's been a lot of fun working with Dan, we really trust one another and you can see how much it has benefited the team."
-source: panther racing