Sao Paulo: Panther Racing preview

Panther, Wheldon Ready for IZOD IndyCar Series Opener in Brazil Dan Wheldon, National Guard Team Prepared for 17-race IndyCar Season in No. 4 Car Sao Paulo, Brazil - (March 12, 2010) -- The National Guard Panther Racing team and driver Dan ...

Panther, Wheldon Ready for IZOD IndyCar Series Opener in Brazil

Dan Wheldon, National Guard Team Prepared for 17-race IndyCar Season in No. 4 Car

Sao Paulo, Brazil - (March 12, 2010) -- The National Guard Panther Racing team and driver Dan Wheldon are prepared for their second full season together, beginning with the IZOD IndyCar Series opening race in Sao Paulo, Brazil this weekend. After finishing ninth in the championship point standings in 2009, including a runner-up finish in the Indianapolis 500, the team and Wheldon are prepared to improve upon their results in 2010.

Dan Wheldon, No. 4 National Guard Dallara Honda

"I'm very excited to get the season underway with the National Guard Panther Racing team. I think this weekend will certainly be an exciting race, especially when you consider how many good cars and teams that are here. And Brazilian fans are incredibly passionate about racing, and the IZOD IndyCar Series in particular. When you consider all of that I think it's going to make for a great race weekend."

The Sao Paulo Indy 300 will be broadcast live on VERSUS this Sunday at 11:30 a.m., with additional coverage provided by the IMS Radio Network and XM channel 145 and Sirius 211.

Wheldon Uses Go-Karting to Keep Sharp in the Off-Season

For Panther driver Dan Wheldon, the offseason in IndyCar is so long the former Indy 500 winner gets restless. In years past, his offseason has including running in the Rolex 24 of Daytona -- a race he won in 2006 with Scott Dixon and Casey Mears -- and other events, but this season Wheldon has taken his offseason go-karting regimen to a new level. The National Guard had Wheldon participate in the SKUSA SuperNationals late in 2008 and since then Wheldon has increased his workload, both for personal enjoyment and also because he envisions starting a go-kart team for his son Sebastian -- who just turned one-year old on February 1st -- when he turns four-years-old. (Pending approval from mother Susie, of course)

This year a partnership with Arrow chassis, BTK Racing and Bridgestone tires has Wheldon in a kart for 14 events this season, which will put Panther's driver in a go-kart during nearly all of his IndyCar off weekends.

"Karting is something I've always been passionate about," Wheldon admits. "And I must say it's been a lot of fun participating as much as I have this offseason. The karting circuit is unbelievably competitive and these young guys keep me on my toes out there."

Panther Team Returns in 2010 with Complete Unit Intact, Unchanged

For the first time in recent memory, Panther Racing made no significant offseason personnel changes to its team and pit crew. Typically in the long IndyCar Series offseason you will see new team members come and go, and even in this difficult economy, Panther was able to retain its entire crew. Returning are Team Manager Chris Mower, Chief Engineer David Cripps and Chief Mechanic Dan Miller and each of their respective staffs. Panther team owner John Barnes is thrilled by the lack of turnover.

"We didn't make any changes at Panther this offseason because we didn't have to," Barnes admitted. "We're fortunate that we have great partners on this team like the National Guard, so we were able to keep our entire staff throughout the offseason and I feel like the people we have on this team now are as good a group as we've had."

Team officials, and Wheldon, felt this was obvious after the team's first test at Sebring International Raceway.

"You could just tell everything went smoothly, and it was probably one of the most productive tests I've ever been a part of," Wheldon explained. "When you change teams there is always that transition period where you have to get to know one another, and obviously it takes both myself - as the driver of the team -- and the team time to figure out how we're going to work together. I feel like now, especially my relationship with (race engineer) David Cripps, is very strong and that will translate into some good results on the racetrack."

-source: panter racing

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Casey Mears , Scott Dixon , Dan Wheldon , Dan Miller , John Barnes
Teams Panther Racing