Birmingham: Panther Racing race report

Wheldon Climbs IndyCar Grid for 11th-Place Finish at Barber National Guard Panther Racing Team Overcomes 23rd-Place Start, Nearly Captures Top Ten LEEDS, Ala. - (April 11, 2010) -- National Guard Panther Racing driver Dan Wheldon climbed up...

Wheldon Climbs IndyCar Grid for 11th-Place Finish at Barber

National Guard Panther Racing Team Overcomes 23rd-Place Start, Nearly Captures Top Ten

LEEDS, Ala. - (April 11, 2010) -- National Guard Panther Racing driver Dan Wheldon climbed up the IZOD IndyCar Series grid on Sunday at Barber Motorsports Park to collect an 11th-place finish in the Indy Grand Prix of Alabama. After a spin in the first round of qualifications yesterday, Wheldon started in the 23rd position for today's 90-lap event, but was able to make up a total of 12 positions during the race.

The finish puts Wheldon in the 12th position in the championship standings, two positions behind the Andretti Autosport duo of Tony Kanaan and Marco Andretti.

Because of the starting position Panther team officials were aggressive with their race strategy, electing to pit Wheldon just nine laps into the event. The decision paid off quickly as a full-course caution was called just three laps later when Takuma Sato stopped on track. The timely caution helped elevate Wheldon to 11th position, as many competitors pitted during the caution flag.

The National Guard car reached as high as sixth on the grid as multiple pit strategies played out on the track and after the team's pit crew had their two fastest stops of the season. Once all cars had made their final pit stop Wheldon was in 13th-position and on Lap 85 he narrowly missed a spinning Simona de Silvestro and Ryan Hunter-Reay -- who was attempting to avoid contact with de Silvestro.

Wheldon was then able to hold off Hunter-Reay during the final three green-flag laps of the race to collect the 11th-place finish.

The race concluded with Team Penske driver Helio Castroneves visiting victory lane for the first time this season, and he was joined on the podium by the Ganassi Racing duo of Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti.

The IndyCar Series will now travel to California for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, which will be broadcast live on VERSUS on Sunday, April 18th at 3:30 (EST) with additional coverage provided by the IMS Radio Network, XM Channel 145 and Sirius 211.

Dan Wheldon, No. 4 National Guard Dallara Honda

"It was a relatively good result; obviously this is a difficult track to overtake on, so that made it somewhat difficult. But overall today the National Guard guys did a really good job in the pits. I thought the team did a good job with the No. 4 car as well. It was a difficult race, especially to overtake, because even when you'd catch somebody that was slower it was still difficult to get past them. All and all it's a good result and we're looking forward to moving on to Long Beach."

-source: panther racing

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Takuma Sato , Helio Castroneves , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Dan Wheldon , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Marco Andretti , Simona de Silvestro
Teams Andretti Autosport , Panther Racing , Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing