Wheldon Takes Momentum of Indianapolis Finish to Milwaukee Mile National Guard Panther Racing Team Only 16 Points Away from Championship Lead WEST ALLIS, Wis. (May 29, 2009) -- Panther Racing and driver Dan Wheldon enter this weekend's...
Wheldon Takes Momentum of Indianapolis Finish to Milwaukee Mile
National Guard Panther Racing Team Only 16 Points Away from Championship Lead
WEST ALLIS, Wis. (May 29, 2009) -- Panther Racing and driver Dan Wheldon enter this weekend's IndyCar Series event at the Milwaukee Mile riding high from another runner-up finish in the Indianapolis 500, and the team hopes that momentum will carry them into the second stage of the season, which begins Sunday in the ABC Supply Company AJ Foyt 225.
The team currently ranks seventh in the IndyCar Series points standings, just 16 points away from current points leader Dario Franchitti. It is as close to the points lead as Panther has been leaving the Indianapolis Motor Speedway since 2002, the year of their last championship.
Four races into the season Wheldon has already captured two Top Five and three Top Ten finishes. The team's best finish this season was last weekend at Indianapolis, where Wheldon finished second -- Panther's second consecutive runner-up finish in the Indy 500. Wheldon finished in fifth place on the Streets of Long Beach earlier in the season.
The weekend will also feature a Firestone Indy Lights race on Sunday afternoon, where Panther drivers Martin Plowman and Pippa Mann will look to climb up the points standings after a frustrating day in the Freedom 100. Early in that event, Plowman spun by himself and Pippa crashed along with her teammate as she attempted to avoid the accident.
SSG Troy Kleinheinz Named Panther's "Hometown Hero" for Milwaukee Race
Middleton, Wisconsin resident, and member of the Wisconsin National Guard's 1-147th Aviation Battalion, SSG Troy Kleinheinz has been named Panther Racing's "Hometown Hero" for the Milwaukee event this weekend. SSG Kleinheinz entered his military service at the age of 25 following the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001. Shortly after entering the aviation battalion he was called to active duty in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Kuwait and later by a tour of Operation Iraqi Freedom in Iraq.
He was later selected for a full-time position in the training office of the 1-147th Aviation Battalion and is now responsible for managing the flight operations section and provides full-time support scheduling and tracking battalion training. Most recently, SSG Kleinheinz deployed to Egypt in 2006 in support of Operation Bright Star and is again preparing for mobilization in 2010.
SSG Kleinheinz is supported by his wife Melanie, a four-year-old son Thomas, and a two-year old daughter Samantha.
During the weekend, SSG Kleinheinz will sign a specialty-made "Hero Card" with his photo and biography during the IndyCar Series autograph session on Saturday evening. Kleinheinz will sit next to Panther driver Dan Wheldon and sign alongside the former Indianapolis 500 winner. The team will also honor his service during a ceremony in the National Guard's infield training unit on race morning.
The ABC Supply Company AJ Foyt 225 will be broadcast live Sunday, May 31st on ABC at 3:30 p.m. (EST), with additional coverage provided by the IMS Radio Network and XM Sirius Channel 145.
Dan Wheldon, No. 4 National Guard Dallara Honda
"I really enjoy Milwaukee, it's a drivers' track and it's become one of my favorites in the IndyCar Series. I said early in the year that I didn't think anybody was going to run away with the championship, and right now it's very tight. The key for us is to stay consistent. I felt the National Guard Panther Racing team executed everything perfectly at Indianapolis, and I can't think of many times in my IndyCar Series career that I've left a racetrack feeling that way."
Martin Plowman, No. 15 Firestone Indy Lights
"Coming from an unfortunate crash in Indy this weekend at Milwaukee is going to be crucial for us to turn around our season and start a championship hunt. Looking back at the start of the season we were pretty strong at a lot of races but our end result wasn't good. It's very easy to look back to the 'could have been' or 'what ifs' and it's really easy to say that we should be in the Top Five because the people that we were running with when the season started are now in the Top Five in the championship. So this is the time to stop all the 'could have been' and get it right."
Pippa Mann, No. 16 Firestone Indy Lights:
"Well, obviously we are going to a completely different and completely new track again for me. We had a fantastic race car in Indy so I guess we have to try to build on that and learn the track as quick as possible to go forward and have a good race".