Chicagoland: Panther Racing race report

Wheldon Finishes Second in Chicagoland Speedway Thriller Both Panther Entries Lead the Field at Chicagoland; Fuel Problem Plagues Carpenter JOLIET, Ill. - (August 28, 2010) -- In what was likely the most thrilling race of the IZOD IndyCar Series...

Wheldon Finishes Second in Chicagoland Speedway Thriller
Both Panther Entries Lead the Field at Chicagoland; Fuel Problem Plagues Carpenter

JOLIET, Ill. - (August 28, 2010) -- In what was likely the most thrilling race of the IZOD IndyCar Series season, National Guard Panther Racing driver Dan Wheldon finished runner-up by just 0.0423 of a second to winner Dario Franchitti. Wheldon led the race for a total of 14 laps and shot alongside Franchitti after the final turn of the race, narrowly missing out on his first victory as a member of the National Guard Panther Racing team.

Wheldon started in the seventh position and immediately pulled to within the top three competitors by Lap 34. He pitted on Lap 56 under green for fuel and tires and a small bobble during the stop sent the No. 4 car all the way back to 15th position, but the team and its driver were able to fight back through the field. Wheldon drove back to 11th position and had climbed to inside the Top Ten when the team made a pit stop under green conditions. The stop was one of Panther's quickest of the year, and sent Wheldon back into the race on Lap 143 as the leader of the field.

Wheldon then battled for the lead with Ryan Hunter-Reay, Will Power and Marco Andretti as the leaders went three-wide at times fighting for the top position. After a caution for a spin involving Alex Lloyd, Wheldon entered his final pit stop in fourth position, and another quick stop from the National Guard team helped him enter the final restart in third position. After the Lap 177 restart Wheldon made quick work of Power, passing the Team Penske driver and working in tandem with leader Dario Franchitti as both Power and Andretti attempted to pass the No. 4 car on the outside.

As they entered Turn Three on the final lap, Wheldon attempted to slingshot past Franchitti, but could only get alongside the Ganassi Racing driver as the two former teammates crossed the line separated by just 0.0423 of a second. The result matched the team's best finish of the season, and the top three finishers were identical to this season's Indianapolis 500 -- Franchitti, Wheldon and Andretti.

The finish was Wheldon's third Top Five and seventh Top Ten finish of the season. Panther remains in the 10th position in the IZOD IndyCar Series point standings, but trails ninth-place Justin Wilson by just seven points and eighth-place Andretti by only 10 points.

Panther teammate Ed Carpenter finished in the 20th position after having a problem while fueling for his third stop of the race. Carpenter had quickly climbed to the front of the field after an 11th-place start and was running in the fourth position when he came in for a pit stop but an issue with the fuel probe prevented any fuel from getting into the car. As Carpenter came back to the pits, he was penalized for entering the pits off of Turn Four and had to serve a subsequent drive-through penalty.

Dan Wheldon, No. 4 National Guard Dallara Honda

"The guys on our National Guard Panther Racing team did a phenomenal job tonight, you can see that they rebounded tonight for a really strong performance. And that's what's fantastic about the Panther guys -- it's their never say die attitude, and we're a close-knit group and there are a lot of good guys with us and when the chips are down if you've got all those guys on your side you're going to be OK. They do a great job and they deserved this result. When it counts I don't know if there's any team better than Panther out there; our last two pit stops in particular were absolutely phenomenal. There was some exciting racing out here tonight and that's how it should be. It's very difficult out here sometimes and you have to race against people you trust and you have to give people room; that's why I like working with certain people more than others. To be honest at the end we were doing a great job working with Dario (Franchitti), because he's always so clean and professional. He's a true gentleman out there and he's a tremendous racecar driver. For me especially tonight I enjoyed having a teammate -- Ed is a hard worker, he's a team player and we work very well together. It's definitely a big benefit to our team and I enjoy that."

Ed Carpenter, No. 20 Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka Dallara Honda

"I just had a really good car that was a lot like Indianapolis and Kentucky last year. It was handling so well that I could put it anywhere. I seemed to be really good on the bottom where a lot of guys were pushing up. I could go high or low and was able to work my way to the front pretty quickly early in the race. We saved fuel, got really good mileage and lead some laps. It was a lot of fun but then really disappointing. It's pretty frustrating that the two times we've run this No. 20 Fuzzy's Vodka car, I feel like we should have finished on a podium. We had a fuel issue again.

"A different problem but the same result. I have to thank the Panther Racing team. They did a great job giving me a super fast car. I'm really happy for Dan Wheldon and his Panther crew and their great second place result. They were just as fast and we can take solace in the fact we too could have been up there battling for the win with him. We said coming in here that we were going to have a chance to win and we did. If we can go without having a fuel issue again, I'm pretty sure we can finish on the podium. I'm feeling very confident for Kentucky and Homestead. We're not points racing. We're racing for a win."

-source: panther racing

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Dario Franchitti , Dan Wheldon , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Marco Andretti , Alex Lloyd , Will Power , Ed Carpenter
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske