Panther Moves to Sixth in Points Chase with Top Ten at Milwaukee Wheldon Captures Fourth Top Ten Finish of Season, Advances One Spot in IndyCar Series Championship WEST ALLIS, Wis. (May 31, 2009) -- Panther Racing and driver Dan Wheldon ...
Panther Moves to Sixth in Points Chase with Top Ten at Milwaukee
Wheldon Captures Fourth Top Ten Finish of Season, Advances One Spot in IndyCar Series Championship
WEST ALLIS, Wis. (May 31, 2009) -- Panther Racing and driver Dan Wheldon advanced to sixth position in the IndyCar Series championship chase with a Top Ten finish Sunday at the Milwaukee Mile in the ABC Supply AJ Foyt 225. Wheldon, who started 14th, advanced to as high as seventh in the race before settling for a 10th-place result, his fourth Top Ten finish of the year in five starts. Sunday was his 100th consecutive IndyCar Series start.
Continuing on their solid performance from the Indianapolis 500, Panther's pit crew assisted Wheldon on his climb from 14th on the grid. After Wheldon advanced to 12th on the track, his crew helped move their driver up two more spots in the pits on a trip to pit lane on Lap 59. Wheldon returned to the field in 10th place, and after passing Tony Kanaan on the track for ninth, the crew helped move Wheldon up another two positions during a green flag stop for the team on Lap 125.
Wheldon surpassed Kanaan in the point standings, after the Andretti Green Racing driver appeared to have an on-board fire during the race and retired early. Dan now trails current points leader Scott Dixon by 35 points, and fifth-place Helio Castroneves by 10 points.
Dixon was the winner of the race, with Team Penske driver Ryan Briscoe second and Dario Franchitti third.
In the Firestone Indy Lights race held earlier in the afternoon, Panther driver Pippa Mann captured her best career Indy Lights finish with a ninth-place result. Teammate Martin Plowman had an issue with his brakes on the first lap of the race and had to pull into pit lane to make repairs. He finished 15th.
The team will now prepare for next weekend's battle at the thrilling Texas Motor Speedway, site of five of Panther's 15 career victories. The five wins is more than any other team in the history of TMS, and now Wheldon hopes to join the likes of Scott Goodyear, Sam Hornish Jr. and Tomas Scheckter as drivers of the team's No. 4 car to have captured victory at the high-banked 1.5-mile oval.
The Bombardier Learjet 550 will be broadcast live on Versus at 9:00 p.m. (EST) with additional coverage provided by the IMS Radio network and Sirius/XM Channel 211.
Dan Wheldon, No. 4 National Guard Dallara Honda
"Obviously it was a difficult weekend; when you miss the first session on a short weekend like this, it makes it very difficult. The top three cars today seemed to be in a class of their own. On a long run we were pretty good, we just didn't quite have the speed and just needed a bit more rear security so we could drive deeper into the corners. You need that to be fast around here. We're going to continue to work hard and I'm sure that the entire National Guard Panther Racing team is going to get stronger and the season goes on. We've learned some important things this weekend, and in a competitive series like this we know where we need to improve and we're heading in a good direction."
Martin Plowman, No. 15 Firestone Indy Lights
"Pretty much this was a weekend to forget. We took a direction in qualifying that didn't work for me and during the race we encountered brake problems. My race basically started with 15 laps down, so we used it as a test to improve the car looking forward to the rest of the season. After the middle of the race I was pretty happy with the balance of the car and was running the same speed as some Top Five cars. Thankfully this is a very unique place and it's not an indicator for the rest of the season."
Pippa Mann, No. 16 Firestone Indy Lights:
"Finally I got to see a checkered flag on an oval! We were running our own little race out there. After qualifying I hoped we could tag along with the leaders and run with the front pack, but on race pace I couldn't stick with the faster cars. The guys did an awesome job giving me a well balanced car, so it was a good experience for me to complete this race heading to Iowa. We had a rough start of the season but we are working hard to turn it around."