Panther, Wheldon Hope to Add to Chicagoland Trophy Case Team and Driver Want to Share Victory in Joliet after Collecting Wins in 2002-03 and 2005-06 INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - (August 27, 2009) -- Panther Racing and National Guard driver Dan Wheldon...
Panther, Wheldon Hope to Add to Chicagoland Trophy Case
Team and Driver Want to Share Victory in Joliet after Collecting Wins in 2002-03 and 2005-06
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - (August 27, 2009) -- Panther Racing and National Guard driver Dan Wheldon share a total of four race victories at Chicagoland Speedway's thrilling 1.5-mile oval, and the driver/team combination hope to make a victory lap together this weekend in the PEAK Antifreeze & Motor Oil Indy 300.
Most recently, Wheldon captured back-to-back victories at the Joliet racetrack in 2005 and again in 2006, when he was fighting for his second consecutive IndyCar Series championship. Wheldon's victory in 2006 concluded the season with him tied in points with Sam Hornish Jr., but the title went to the Team Penske driver because he had more victories than Wheldon that year.
And it was Hornish who helped Panther secure two of its most thrilling victories in team history at Chicagoland -- including the closest 1-2 finish in series history (by 0.0024 over Al Unser Jr. in 2002) and the closest 1-2-3 finish, by 0.0100 over Scott Dixon and Bryan Herta the following year in 2003. Panther also collected a victory in Firestone Indy Lights in 2003 with Mark Taylor, a feat they hope to repeat this weekend with the driver tandem of Martin Plowman and Pippa Mann.
Wheldon's Helmet Designed by St. Vincent Children's Hospital Patient
Every year during the Month of May, Panther driver Dan Wheldon visits the Peyton Manning Children's Hospital at St. Vincent to visit with children and parents that are patients there. He also holds a contest with the kids, asking them to design a helmet and write a story about themselves. Wheldon selects the most inspiring story and has his helmet painted with the child's design.
Last year, the young patient Wheldon selected was able to attend the Milwaukee race and watch the IndyCar Series event with Wheldon wearing the helmet that she designed. This year, the nine-year-old cancer patient that Wheldon selected was unable to attend the Milwaukee race due to treatments and he held out hope she could come to this weekend's event at Chicagoland, but unfortunately, she could not make the trip. Wheldon will wear the uniquely-painted helmet this weekend in her honor.
Dan Wheldon, No. 4 National Guard Dallara Honda
"Chicago is obviously an exciting track where you can pass, so it should be a really good show for fans of the IndyCar Series. It's also a track where I've gone quite well in the past, and the team has won here multiple times as well. We continue to make strides as a group and we hope to roll off the truck well here this weekend and put the No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing car in victory lane."
Martin Plowman, No. 15 Firestone Indy Lights
"I'm really psyched for the race in Chicago. Last race we saw the weekend going away from us, starting the week very strong and letting it go away towards the end. It obviously wasn't what we wanted to achieve. But now we have two ovals and our focus is to put all of our efforts into these last races and get good results before the end of the season."
Pippa Mann, No. 16 Firestone Indy Lights
"I'm really looking forward to getting back on a speedway oval track this weekend at Chicago. Although the ovals this year haven't been kind to me in terms of results, we've been fast at every speedway we've been to, including last time out in Kentucky, and I'm looking to put that lack of results right! We had a great car in the race in Kentucky, and while I haven't seen Chicagoland, I have been told it is a very similar layout, so hopefully we can carry that strong performance forwards and this time bring home a result."