Sonoma: Panther Racing race report

Broken Front Wing Costs Wheldon; Panther Finishes 12th at Infineon National Guard Team Charges from 12th to 5th on First Lap, Fall Back For Late Wing Change Sonoma, Calif. - (August 23, 2009) -- Dan Wheldon charged through the carnage...

Broken Front Wing Costs Wheldon; Panther Finishes 12th at Infineon

National Guard Team Charges from 12th to 5th on First Lap, Fall Back For Late Wing Change

Sonoma, Calif. - (August 23, 2009) -- Dan Wheldon charged through the carnage during a first-lap crash at the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma Sunday at Infineon Raceway to catapult from a 12th-place starting position to fifth position, but contact incurred during the incident caused a wing flap to fall off later in the race, and forced the team into a 12th-place finish. Wheldon made slight contact with Scott Dixon during the first-lap melee, but the damage was not significant enough at the time to pit for a change.

Wheldon maintained fifth until he was overtaken by Mario Moraes on Lap 13, but he held on to sixth place as the field cycled through the first round of pit stops. The wing damage from the first-lap incident continued to worsen as the race progressed, and just before the second -- and final -- round of stops, it began to adversely affect the car's handling. After slipping to eighth after the team's last stop, Wheldon was battling with Justin Wilson when the entire left-front wing flap came off the car. Wheldon attempted to continue with the damage, but was unable to maintain track position and he pulled to pit lane on Lap 65 so the Panther crew could make the front wing assembly change.

After returning to the track, Wheldon was able to improve three positions during a five-lap shootout to the checkered flag following a restart after a full-course caution involving Helio Castroneves. Dan passed two cars on track and was awarded an additional position after Marco Andretti was penalized for avoidable contact on the final lap.

Ganassi Racing driver Dario Franchitti collected a dominant victory in the race, and was joined on the podium by Team Penske driver Ryan Briscoe and Mike Conway.

The IndyCar Series will travel to Chicagoland Speedway for next Saturday night's Peak Antifreeze & Motor Oil Indy 300, which will be broadcast live on Versus at 9 p.m. with additional coverage provided by IMS Radio Network and Sirius XM Channel 211.

Dan Wheldon, No. 4 National Guard Dallara Honda

"It was a shame because everybody in the National Guard team has really been working hard, and it was a little unfortunate that the front wing broke, but that's life. The good thing is that we're competitive again, which we carried over from the Mid-Ohio race. These next three tracks are tracks that we're all really strong at, so we can really pull some positives out of today and move on to Chicago."

-credit: pr

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Helio Castroneves , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Dan Wheldon , Ryan Briscoe , Marco Andretti , Mike Conway , Mario Moraes
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing