Broken Half-Shaft Ends Wheldon's Day in Chicago, Panther Finishes 22nd Joliet, Ill. - (August 29, 2009) -- Dan Wheldon drove from 16th-place all the way up to seventh in one stint during yesterday's PEAK Antifreeze & Motor Oil Indy 300 at ...
Broken Half-Shaft Ends Wheldon's Day in Chicago, Panther Finishes 22nd
Joliet, Ill. - (August 29, 2009) -- Dan Wheldon drove from 16th-place all the way up to seventh in one stint during yesterday's PEAK Antifreeze & Motor Oil Indy 300 at Chicagoland Speedway, only to suffer a broken half-shaft on the team's second pit stop of the day. Panther's No. 4 National Guard car did not return to competition, and the team finished in 22nd position.
It was only the second DNF for the team this season, dating back to the opening race of the season in St. Petersburg when Wheldon was knocked out of the race following on-track contact with Robert Doornbos. Entering the Chicagoland race weekend, Wheldon and Panther had completed more laps (2,169 of a possible 2,113) than any other driver/team combination in the series.
Wheldon qualified 11th for the race, and slipped back to 16th during the first stint of the race as Panther's driver struggled with front grip. A new set of Firestone tires and a front wing adjustment injected some life into the team's No. 4 car, as Wheldon returned to the field in 16th and quickly made a charge to the front. In the next 25 laps Wheldon passed nine cars, including all four Andretti Green Racing cars of Danica Patrick, Tony Kanaan, Marco Andretti and Hideki Mutoh, along with additional competitors Graham Rahal, Justin Wilson, Oriol Servia, Raphael Matos and Mario Moraes.
A yellow on Lap 92 for a single-car crash involving Mutoh packed the IndyCar field, and the National Guard team had a flawless pit stop, but as Wheldon went to launch back into pit lane the half-shaft on the No. 4 car broke and left the car lifeless in its pit box.
The IndyCar Series will take a break for the next two weekends before making the trip overseas for the Honda Indy Japan at Twin Ring Motegi.
Dan Wheldon, No. 4 National Guard Dallara Honda
"We lacked a little bit of front wing and were a little bit conservative at the start, but we put the wing back in our first pit stop and then had a great racecar. The car was working really well and once I got back to the front I was just sitting behind Tomas (Scheckter) and Ed (Carpenter) just trying to save as much fuel as possible to open our window a little bit, so we could have a shorter stop to get some track position. But unfortunately when I went to leave the pits I had both drive shafts break, which is something I've never had happen before. It's unfortunate, and one of those things, but we'll just move on."