Wheldon, Panther Racing Prepare for Debut in Surfers Paradise; Non-Points IndyCar Series Event Marks Englishman's First Drive with Team Since 2002 SUFERS PARADISE, Australia (October 22, 2008) -- Several weeks of testing and adjusting to one...
Wheldon, Panther Racing Prepare for Debut in Surfers Paradise; Non-Points IndyCar Series Event Marks Englishman's First Drive with Team Since 2002
SUFERS PARADISE, Australia (October 22, 2008) -- Several weeks of testing and adjusting to one another will culminate this Sunday in Surfers Paradise, Australia for Panther Racing and Dan Wheldon, the new driver of the team's No. 4 Delphi National Guard Honda Dallara. Wheldon, the 2005 IndyCar Series and Indianapolis 500 champion, will make his return to the team official in Sunday's Nikon Indy 300, a non-points paying IndyCar Series event.
Following successful tests at both the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Sebring International Raceway, the team is ready to complete the process of getting re-acquainted with Wheldon under race weekend conditions. The Nikon Indy 300 will not be counted in the official IndyCar Series statistical archive, but it marks the first time Wheldon has driven a Panther car in a race since Texas Motor Speedway in 2002. The Englishman made his first two career starts for Panther that year, recording a Top Ten finish in his first start at Chicagoland Speedway. He was a teammate to two-time league champion Sam Hornish, Jr. during both of his starts.
Both Panther and Wheldon will be making their first appearance in Australia, although many of the team's crew members have worked at the race in the past. The team gathered at the track on Wednesday to get acquainted with the surroundings and walked around the track during the afternoon. Thursday's activities will consist of promotional activities for the race while the team completes its setup procedures. The IndyCars will make their track debuts during multiple practice sessions on Friday.
Panther finished 13th in the 2008 IndyCar Series standings with former driver Vitor Meira. Wheldon, who finished fourth in the standings with victories at Kansas and Iowa, signed a multi-year agreement just prior to the final race of the season at Chicagoland Speedway.
Dan Wheldon, No. 4 Delphi National Guard:
"Australia is a race that I've heard a lot of good things about and I've yet to complete, so I'm very much looking forward to running here in the No. 4 car. We'll be at a little bit of a disadvantage in the fact that I don't have any track knowledge here, but that is something we'll be able to overcome during practice. We're looking for an impressive debut with the Delphi National Guard and Panther crew. We had a great test on the oval at Indy and at Sebring as well. Whenever you join a new team with new personnel it always takes time to adapt, but because of the testing we were able to get through some of that learning process. I can tell all our guys are excited about this weekend."