Two-Time Kansas Speedway Winner Wheldon Hopes to Repeat History Panther National Guard Driver Looks to Score First Victory With Team on Kansas Speedway Oval KANSAS CITY, Kan.- (April 28, 2010) -- Two-time Kansas Speedway winner Dan Wheldon and...
Two-Time Kansas Speedway Winner Wheldon Hopes to Repeat History
Panther National Guard Driver Looks to Score First Victory With Team on Kansas Speedway Oval
KANSAS CITY, Kan.- (April 28, 2010) -- Two-time Kansas Speedway winner Dan Wheldon and the National Guard Panther Racing team hope that momentum from a Top Ten finish in Long Beach and a return to a familiar 1.5-mile oval will propel the team to a victory in Saturday's Road Runner Turbo Indy 300.
Last year in Kansas, a race which marked Wheldon's 100th career IZOD IndyCar Series start, a malfunctioning roll bar caused a handling problem in the No. 4 National Guard car. Despite breaking into the Top Five early in the event, Wheldon was unable to contend with the leaders because of the issue and finished in 10th position in the race. Coming into the 2009 race, Wheldon had won the two previous IndyCar events at Kansas while driving for Ganassi Racing in 2007 and 2008 -- races in which he led more than half (216) of the possible laps (400) in the events.
Panther visited victory lane in Kansas with Mark Taylor during a Firestone Indy Lights race in 2003 and in the IndyCar Series the team finished runner-up in Kansas with Sam Hornish Jr. in both their championship seasons of 2001 and 2002. Panther has also finished Top Five at the event with Tomas Scheckter (fifth in 2005) and Vitor Meira (3rd in 2006).
Wheldon currently ranks 10th in the IZOD IndyCar Series championship points race, after scoring one Top Five and two Top Ten finishes in the first four races of the young season.
Two weeks ago, Wheldon started tenth and finished ninth in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, benefitting from a late-race fuel gamble by team strategists David Cripps and John Barnes that helped to secure the team's second Top Ten finish of 2010.
Dan Wheldon, No. 4 National Guard Dallara Honda
"I'm obviously very excited about returning to Kansas Speedway this weekend in the National Guard Panther Racing car. We tested there last week and even though the test got rained out we were extremely quick in the few laps we had in the No. 4 car. Kansas is always an intense race and one that is very exciting for fans of the IZOD IndyCar Series and I would expect the same this season. I feel the track is one that suits my style very well and obviously Panther Racing has had a tremendous amount of success here. The team has been very strong everywhere we've gone this season and I certainly expect that to continue this weekend in Kansas."
SFC Lloyd Mattix Named Panther Racing's National Guard Kansas Hometown Hero
Kansas native SFC Lloyd Mattix, veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom and member of the Kansas Army National Guard, is National Guard Panther Racing's "Hometown Hero" for the upcoming Road Runner Turbo Indy 300.
SFC Mattix will take an IndyCar Experience two-seater ride around the Kansas tri-oval and will also attend the IZOD Indy Racing League Autograph session on Saturday, where he will sign a specially-made "Hero Card" featuring his picture and biography on one side and Wheldon's on the other. SFC Mattix will be honored by Panther CEO and co-owner John Barnes on Saturday and then will be recognized on the pre-race stage before the start of the RoadRunner Turbo Indy 300.
Mattix, a native of San Diego, California, served in the U.S. Navy for seven years before joining the Kansas Army National Guard in 1996, where he is currently assigned to the 161st Field Artillery Regiment. After serving in support of Operations Noble Eagle and Armored Falcon, Mattox was deployed to Iraq in 2005 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Mattix was wounded in both legs by shrapnel from a mortar while serving in Iraq, but recovered from his injuries to continue his service in the Kansas National Guard.
SFC Mattix has been awarded numerous service medals, including the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal with 4 Oak Leaf Clusters, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, Kansas National Guard Meritorious Service Ribbon, and Kansas National Guard Commendation Ribbon.
Panther honors a "Hometown Hero" at each IZOD IndyCar Series race held in the United States.