Indy 500: Panther Racing race report

Wheldon Finishes Second in 94th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Late Caution Flag Spoils Panther's Bid to Win the Greatest Spectacle in Racing; Carpenter 17th INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - (May 30, 2010) -- In the final laps of the 94th Running of the...

Wheldon Finishes Second in 94th Running of the Indianapolis 500

Late Caution Flag Spoils Panther's Bid to Win the Greatest Spectacle in Racing; Carpenter 17th

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - (May 30, 2010) -- In the final laps of the 94th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, National Guard Panther Racing driver Dan Wheldon was quickly closing in on race-leader Dario Franchitti, but a caution on the final lap of the race secured Panther a runner-up finish -- the third consecutive year in which they've finished second at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

In a frenzied final stint, competitors were attempting to save fuel as the race neared its conclusion, and the window for Panther's first Indianapolis 500 victory appeared to be coming into grasp. The leaders of the race had all pitted on Lap 163 in hopes that they could make it to the end, but with no cautions, it became very close for all the leaders at the end.

Wheldon passed Tomas Scheckter (Lap 173) and Marco Andretti (Lap 191) during his final stint, as several other competitors who were off-sequence had to duck into the pits. With five laps remaining Wheldon was trailing only Franchitti and Tony Kanaan, when Kanaan had to pit for fuel. With two laps remaining it was clear that Franchitti was about to run out of Ethanol, and Wheldon was charging to capture his second Indy 500 victory when Mike Conway and Ryan Hunter-Reay had a frightening crash in Turn Three, ending the race under caution.

Wheldon has now captured five Top Five finishes in his eight Indianapolis 500 starts, including a victory (2005), two runner-up finishes (2009-2010), a third (2004) and a fourth (2006). This season Wheldon has captured two Top Five and three Top Ten finishes in six starts for Panther Racing.

Teammate Ed Carpenter finished 17th in the No. 20 Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka special, after qualifying a career-best of eighth position during Pole Day qualifications with his Vision Racing crew last week.

After taking the green flag from the middle of row three, Carpenter had reached fourth by Lap 71. As lap 105 approached, Carpenter was looking to make his third pit stop when fellow competitor Vitor Meira brought out the sixth caution of the race for contact with the wall. The yellow flag froze the field and closed the pits, but Carpenter was running out of Ethanol fuel, and was forced to pit. He came into the pits fourth and rejoined the field in the 19th spot.

As the race was winding down, Carpenter was in 14th when again, fuel, or lack thereof, became an issue. Carpenter slowed on lap 198 and coasted all the way around and back to the pits without power.

For two consecutive years Wheldon has started in 18th and finished second, after Panther finished runner-up with Vitor Meira 2008.

The IZOD IndyCar Series will now travel to Texas Motor Speedway for the Firestone 550k.

Dan Wheldon, No. 4 National Guard Dallara Honda:

"Everybody in the National Guard Panther Racing team knew we had a good racecar, so we took it easy to start with and the team made some great calls in the pits and we were really setting ourselves up for the last two stints -- and for the last few I was able to run flat-out behind people. I took it upon myself to save fuel early in that final stint, because I could see our fuel number and the amount of laps left. It got to the point where everybody else was slowing down and I stayed the same pace. I knew from the beginning of the stint that I'd need to save, but perhaps I should have gone for it more those last two laps. This is a great team effort, the team called a great strategy, we had phenomenal pit stops and everybody pulled through and did a good job. Second place two years is a row is good -- but I've got to make sure I improve that one more spot next year.

I've got to thank the National Guard for giving me the honor and the privilege of driving their racecar, especially on Memorial Day weekend. Hopefully this puts a smile on the Soldiers faces who are out in Iraq, Afghanistan and across the globe because it's truly touching for me to be able to drive their car and they've been a great supporter of Panther Racing."

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

"First half of the race we were looking good. We knew that was going to be the case from qualifying eighth that we were going to be in a good spot and be able to hang out with the leader for a while. But there was something going on because we weren't getting good mileage at all. That one yellow hurt us. We had to come in and splash while everyone else was able to make it until the pits came open. We lost track position as a result. At the end we ran out of fuel again with just two laps to go. It's very disappointing."

"The Panther Racing team did a great job. Dan (Wheldon) and I both had great cars. I have to that Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka for their support this month as well. This is just one of those race results that is just really hard to handle because we had a much better car than where we finished. That's just the way Indy goes sometimes and circumstances play out and take you right out of it. It doesn't matter if you have a good car and are having a decent race it sometimes is just out of your control. It's a bummer but it's Indy. I love this race. I'm really not happy with today's result but when you look at this whole month I have to be happy and proud about what Dan and the Panther team were able to accomplish. They've finished second here three times in a row. I hope they'll have me back. Someone is going to get them a win here soon and I'd like a shot at it."

-source: panther racing

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Tony Kanaan , Dan Wheldon , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Marco Andretti , Mike Conway , Ed Carpenter , Vitor Meira
Teams Panther Racing