Wheldon Battles from Back at Watkins Glen to Finish in Sixth Position
National Guard Panther Team Overcomes Early Contact, Slices Back Through the Field
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. - (July 4, 2010) -- Just 16 laps into the Camping World GP at the Glen, National Guard Panther Racing driver Dan Wheldon was parked sideways and stalled in the middle of Turn Eight after being hit from behind by Alex Lloyd. By the conclusion of the race, Wheldon and his Panther teammates were able to move through the field, catch a timely caution, and finish in the sixth position during a special Fourth of July weekend in upstate New York.
The result moves Panther up two positions in the IZOD IndyCar Series championship standings, and Wheldon is now tied with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing driver Justin Wilson for the eighth position in the standings.
In nine starts this season, Wheldon has now collected five Top Ten and two Top Five finishes.
The team started the weekend quickly after finishing fourth in the first practice session, but a steering issue during qualifications put the team in the 20th-starting position for today's race.
When the race began, Wheldon quickly moved into the 17th position as the team elected to start the race on the black Firestone tires. But on Lap 16, as he entered turn eight, Alex Lloyd struck the right-rear wheel of the No. 4 car, sending Wheldon into a spin and stalling the car on the track. The car was restarted by the Safety Team in time to keep Wheldon on the lead lap, and the team pitted during the full-course caution for the alternate red Firestone tires.
From there, Wheldon and Panther were able to advance through the field. Once the race was restarted on Lap 19, Dan passed Danica Patrick, Paul Tracy, Bertrand Baguette and Hideki Mutoh to come to inside the Top Ten as competitors began cycling through pit stops. The Panther team made its final stop on Lap 39, just prior to a caution flag for a crash involving Simona de Silvestro. Wheldon restarted the race in fifth place and lost one position to Mario Moraes before finishing in the sixth position.
Team Penske driver Will Power won the race from the pole position and was joined on the podium by teammate Ryan Briscoe and Ganassi Racing driver Dario Franchitti.
The IZOD IndyCar Series will have a weekend off before traveling north to Canada for the Honda Indy Toronto.
Dan Wheldon, No. 4 National Guard Dallara Honda
"First and foremost it's very special to represent the National Guard on the Fourth of July, and I wanted to say hello to all the Soldiers representing this country overseas and also here in the United States. It was a fantastic job by the National Guard Panther Racing team today; we were very strong on the first day and we had a little problem yesterday that we didn't find until after qualifying. The race was very eventful to start with, we got bumped by Alex Lloyd -- I could see he was having a little bit of a go at me and I tried to leave him some room, but he obviously wasn't right alongside of me and we touched. It's unfortunate, but one of those things. I knew once we got to the pit stop the team would get me some spots, and fortunately because the car was so good we were able to overtake people and soon as we got the red Firestone tires on I was able to come through the field. That was a very strong team performance today by the Panther boys."
-source: panther racing