Motegi: Panther Racing qualifying report

Panther's Wheldon Qualifies Ninth for Tomorrow's Japan Indy 300 Chase for Third-Straight Podium Finish Begins from Fourth Row at Twin Ring Motegi MOTEGI, Japan - (September 18, 2010) -- The National Guard Panther Racing team and driver Dan...

Panther's Wheldon Qualifies Ninth for Tomorrow's Japan Indy 300

Chase for Third-Straight Podium Finish Begins from Fourth Row at Twin Ring Motegi

MOTEGI, Japan - (September 18, 2010) -- The National Guard Panther Racing team and driver Dan Wheldon will begin pursuit of their third-consecutive podium finish in tomorrow's Indy Japan 300, where the No. 4 National Guard team will start in the ninth position. Wheldon, a two-time winner at the challenging 1.5-mile Twin Ring Motegi oval, will start tomorrow's race on the inside of the fifth row -- alongside local favorite Takuma Sato.

The team posted qualification speeds of 198.808 and 199.643 mph, for a combined two-lap average of 199.225 mph. Wheldon and Panther's last three qualification efforts have been their three best of the season; Chicagoland (7th), Kentucky (3rd) and now Motegi (9th). Wheldon has also led laps in each of the past two events, including a race-high 93 laps at the last IZOD IndyCar Series event at Kentucky Speedway, a race in which Panther driver Ed Carpenter qualified on the pole and finished in second place.

Panther is currently eighth in the overall IZOD IndyCar Series championship and fifth in the series' oval championship, just 15 points out of the second position. Ganassi driver Dario Franchitti leads the oval championship with 228 points and Wheldon has a total of 177 points, and is well within striking distance of Tony Kanaan (197 points), Helio Castroneves (199 points) and Scott Dixon (201 points).

Wheldon will be vying for his third victory at Twin Ring Motegi, and first career victory as driver of Panther's National Guard car. He won races at the 1.5-mile oval in both 2004 and 2005, and was the polesitter at the race here in 2004 and had consecutive runner-up finishes while driver for Ganassi Racing in 2006 and 2007. In his seven career starts in Japan, Wheldon has finished Top Five five times and inside the Top Ten in all seven contests.

The Team Penske trio of Castroneves (pole), Ryan Briscoe (second) and Will Power (third) swept the first three positions for tomorrow's event.

The Indy Japan 300 will be broadcast live on VERSUS on Saturday, September 18th at 11:00 p.m. (EST), and re-aired on VERSUS Sunday at 7:00 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

"Our qualifying run in the National Guard Panther Racing car wasn't bad. We had a really good first practice session and the second session didn't go so well, and that set us back a little bit. I think we might have been a little better off that what our time showed in qualifying. But we'll see tomorrow; anything can happen in the race and we've got a good racecar so we've just got to push forward. I think we'll be good tomorrow in the race, I really do."

-source: panther racing

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Takuma Sato , Helio Castroneves , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Dan Wheldon , Ryan Briscoe , Will Power , Ed Carpenter
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing