National Guard Driver Dan Wheldon Qualifies Eighth in Japan Two-time Twin Ring Motegi Winner Looks to Add Third Victory in Panther's No. 4 Car MOTEGI, Japan - (September 18, 2009) -- Japan's challenging 1.5-mile Twin Ring Motegi oval was...
National Guard Driver Dan Wheldon Qualifies Eighth in Japan
Two-time Twin Ring Motegi Winner Looks to Add Third Victory in Panther's No. 4 Car
MOTEGI, Japan - (September 18, 2009) -- Japan's challenging 1.5-mile Twin Ring Motegi oval was the site of Dan Wheldon's first career IndyCar Series victory in 2004, and the same victory was a landmark win for engine-supplier Honda, as it was their first win at their home track. Now, after Wheldon qualified eighth Friday afternoon for the Indy Japan 300, he hopes Motegi will play host to his first win in Panther Racing's No. 4 National Guard car.
Panther's former Indy 500 champion posted a four-lap average of 199.693 mph, which consisted of laps of 198.621, 199.755, 200.453 and 199.952 mph.
The qualification effort lands him on the outside of the fourth row, alongside Newman-Haas Lanigan driver Oriol Servia. Saturday afternoon will mark his seventh career start at Twin Ring Motegi, and in addition to his two victories in 2004-05, Wheldon has captured four podium, five Top Five and six Top Ten finishes. He won the pole position at the track in 2004.
Last season he started fifth and finished in fourth position. Panther's best career effort at the egg-shaped oval track came in 2003 when Sam Hornish Jr. finished in sixth place. Tomas Scheckter led 41 of the final 43 laps of the 2005 event here, before running out of fuel with just two laps remaining in the race.
The Honda Indy Japan will be broadcast live on Versus at 10:30 p.m. (EST) on Friday evening, with additional coverage provided by IMS Radio and XM Sirius channel 211. The league website IndyCar.com is also providing live streaming of the event online at no cost.
Dan Wheldon, No. 4 National Guard Dallara Honda
"It wasn't a bad run in the National Guard Panther Racing car today, we just have a little too much understeer on the exit of Turn Four. That's what we've been trying to dial out today, and we have a reasonable racecar to be quite honest, and we did a long race run with the car earlier today and it was good. I feel like we're well prepared for the race and might be just a little bit behind the Penske's and Ganassi's on the longer runs, but for the most part we're in pretty good shape. The key here is you've got to be able to get on the power real early coming out of Turns 3 and 4, and you've got to be able to drive the car in there really deep as well. Particularly if you can get on the power early, and with confidence, coming out of there you can get a good run on people coming down the straight."