Wheldon Qualifies Fourteenth for Sunday's Grand Prix of Long Beach; National Guard Panther Driver Misses Advancing to Second Round by One Tenth of a Second LONG BEACH, California (April 18, 2009) -- National Guard Panther Racing driver Dan ...
Wheldon Qualifies Fourteenth for Sunday's Grand Prix of Long Beach; National Guard Panther Driver Misses Advancing to Second Round by One Tenth of a Second
LONG BEACH, California (April 18, 2009) -- National Guard Panther Racing driver Dan Wheldon narrowly missed advancing to the second round of qualifications Saturday for the Grand Prix of Long Beach, and instead will start from the fourteenth position on the grid. In the second of qualifications first two groups, Wheldon finished seventh quick, just one-tenth of a second away from advancing to the second of three rounds.
Wheldon posted a quick lap of 1:10.5503 seconds, 100.422 mph and will start alongside Mario Moraes in the seventh row. He started the IndyCar Series opener in 11th place, and ran a majority of the race within the top three prior to a 14th-place finish.
Team Penske driver Will Power captured the pole position in the team's No. 12 entry. Sunday will mark the first time in team history that Panther has competed in the Long Beach Grand Prix, before the team returns to Kansas Speedway next weekend -- a track where Wheldon has won the last two IndyCar Series races.
Wheldon, the 2005 Indianapolis 500 and IndyCar Series champion, competed at Long Beach in the Atlantic series in 2000.
Dan Wheldon, No. 4 National Guard Dallara Honda
"The car was pretty good yesterday and we made some changes today and just haven't quite got the same balance. I think certainly the National Guard Panther Racing car was capable of making the second round of qualifying, but the IndyCar Series is just so competitive that if you miss it by a little bit you don't make it, and that's a shame. The potential in our car is definitely there, we just missed it by a little bit. We'll work on the racecar in the warm-up tomorrow. We know we can get a reasonable balance and be very quick, it's just making sure that we get there."