Wheldon Qualifies 13th for Saturday Night Showdown at Richmond National Guard Driver Runs Quick in First Session, Battles Loose Car in Qualifications RICHMOND, Va. (June 26, 2009) -- Panther Racing National Guard driver Dan Wheldon qualified...
Wheldon Qualifies 13th for Saturday Night Showdown at Richmond
National Guard Driver Runs Quick in First Session, Battles Loose Car in Qualifications
RICHMOND, Va. (June 26, 2009) -- Panther Racing National Guard driver Dan Wheldon qualified 13th for Saturday night's SunTrust Indy Challenge at Richmond International Raceway. Wheldon, who captured victory at the tight bullring in 2004 will be competing in his first event here with Panther Racing, who was also victorious at the ¾-mile track in 2002 with Sam Hornish Jr.
Panther's driver posted a four-lap average speed of 163.843 mph, after running lap speeds of 162.452, 162.738, 164.858 and 165.356 mph.
Wheldon started in 20th place in 2004, the year he won the Richmond race while driving for Andretti Green Racing. In his six career starts at the track, he has never finished outside of the Top Ten and has collected a total of four Top Five results. The team is currently in sixth position in the IndyCar Series points standings and only five points away from fifth-place Danica Patrick.
Panther has had similar success at the shortest track on the IndyCar calendar -- Hornish finished second in 2001 before a victory here in 2002 which included a last-lap pass of Team Penske driver Gil de Ferran for the win. Hornish collected another Top Five in 2003 when he finished fourth and in 2005 team driver Tomas Scheckter was able to collect a fourth-place finish as well in the No. 4 car. Most recently, former driver Vitor Meira finished second-place at RIR in 2006 and ninth the following season in the Delphi car.
Meira was running well last season before he was hit from behind by John Andretti, forcing the team into a 20th-place finish.
Dan Wheldon, No. 4 National Guard Dallara Honda
"In practice this morning the National Guard car was quite quick and we made some changes prior to qualifying and fixed one of our problems, but actually made another one worse. I'm not sure if it's the different track conditions or the changes we made, but the car was just loose. It's a bit unfortunate, but that's just the way it goes sometimes. We're working very hard together as a team and I have no doubt the No. 4 car will be moving up pretty quickly in the race. We're work our way towards the front."