National Guard Driver Dan Wheldon Finishes Ninth in Long Beach Fuel Pickup Problem Sends Late Scare Through Team, Gamble Pays Off for Top Ten LONG BEACH, Calif. - (April 18, 2010) -- National Guard driver Dan Wheldon collected a ninth-place ...
National Guard Driver Dan Wheldon Finishes Ninth in Long Beach
Fuel Pickup Problem Sends Late Scare Through Team, Gamble Pays Off for Top Ten
LONG BEACH, Calif. - (April 18, 2010) -- National Guard driver Dan Wheldon collected a ninth-place finish Sunday in the Grand Prix of Long Beach, despite a fuel pickup problem that sent a scare through his Panther Racing team during the waning moments of the event. Wheldon, who started in 10th position, was nearly forced to pit with three laps remaining in the race, but the decision to take a chance and leave Panther's No. 4 car on the track proved beneficial, and helped Wheldon score his second Top Ten finish of the season.
The finish helps move the team up two positions in the IZOD IndyCar Series championship, and Wheldon now ranks in 10th position in the standings, just one point behind Raphael Matos and 11 points behind Andretti Autosport driver Tony Kanaan in eighth.
Wheldon's qualification position of 10th was the team's best starting spot this season. At the start of the race Wheldon overtook Marco Andretti for ninth position, and managed to stay there through both of the team's green-flag pit stops. For the last 20 laps of the race, as Wheldon was chasing Team Penske driver Ryan Briscoe, the team was advising him to save fuel so he could make it to the end of the race.
It was with just five laps remaining in the race that team strategists David Cripps and John Barnes had to seriously consider pitting Wheldon because of a fuel pickup issue. After a discussion with Wheldon on the radio the team and driver elected to keep the National Guard car on track and gamble that the car could make it to the end of the race. Wheldon was able to maintain his position, while holding off Mike Conway, to capture the ninth-place finish.
IZOD driver Ryan Hunter-Reay captured his first win of the season for Andretti Autosport, and was joined on the podium by Justin Wilson and Will Power.
Panther will now travel to Kansas Speedway for a Thursday test on the 1.5-mile oval in preparations for the next IZOD IndyCar Series event, the Road Runner Turbo Indy 300, which will be held at Kansas and broadcast live May 1st on ABC at 1:30 p.m. (EST) with additional coverage provided by the IMS Radio Network and XM Channel 145, Sirius 211 and IndyCar.com
Dan Wheldon, No. 4 National Guard Dallara Honda
"This was a very good race for the National Guard Panther Racing team. We had a little bit of a fuel collector problem for the majority of the race and that made it difficult, but the No. 4 car was really, really good. I was still able to run extremely competitive lap times while saving fuel, and really enjoyed the race. I would probably say the position in which we finished doesn't reflect how strong the car was today. But sometimes you have those races, and it was a really good one for us. It's been a good season for us so far, and I think we just keep getting better and better."
-source: panther racing