St. Pete: Panther Racing preview

Local Dan Wheldon Looks for Second Victory on St. Petersburg Streets Panther National Guard Driver Looks to Repeat 2005 Performance on Hometown Racetrack ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - (March 25, 2010) -- National Guard Panther Racing driver Dan ...

Local Dan Wheldon Looks for Second Victory on St. Petersburg Streets

Panther National Guard Driver Looks to Repeat 2005 Performance on Hometown Racetrack

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - (March 25, 2010) -- National Guard Panther Racing driver Dan Wheldon, winner of the inaugural Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, carries the momentum from the IZOD IndyCar Series opening race in Brazil back to his hometown this weekend to compete in one of the series' signature events. Wheldon finished fifth two weeks ago in Sao Paulo and now hopes to continue the success in this Sunday's Grand Prix.

Wheldon was victorious here in 2005 while driving for the team formerly known as Andretti Green Racing. Last year with Panther Wheldon was running as high as second place for a better part of the race, before contact with Robert Doornbos relegated the former league champion to a 14th-place finish. Panther's best finish at St. Pete came in 2006 when Vitor Meira finished in fifth position.

Panther is debuting a new chassis this weekend on the 14-turn, 1.8-mile street course.

Dan Wheldon, No. 4 National Guard Dallara Honda

"It's always great for me to race here in my hometown, especially in front of all the great fans in St. Pete. This track is really fun to drive and it has a little bit of everything -- high speed corners, 90-degree and 180-degree turns that you often see on a street circuit. And I have to admit I'm really excited to be back here with Panther Racing in the National Guard car -- we had a great opening weekend in Sao Paulo and the racecar we had here last year was honestly one of the best street course cars I've ever driven. There is a lot of positive energy in this team right now and hopefully we can carry this momentum through this weekend and the rest of the season."

CDT Brent Hinson Named Panther Racing's National Guard St. Pete Hometown Hero

Florida National Guard member, and Iraqi war veteran, CDT Brent Hinson has been named National Guard Panther Racing's "Hometown Hero" for Sunday's Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. CDT Hinson will join driver Dan Wheldon at Saturday's Indy Racing League autograph session and sign a specially-made "Hero Card" with his picture and biography on one side, and Wheldon's on the other. He will also be honored in the National Guard's hospitality area on Sunday afternoon and then recognized on the pre-race stage prior to the start of the event.

The Titusville, Florida native is an infantryman in for the University of South Florida Suncoast Battalion Army ROTC, C Company 53rd Brigade Support Battalion. He was deployed to Bagdad, Iraq in October of 2006 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He is currently majoring in Biomedical Sciences at the University of South Florida and is scheduled to graduate this August.

He is a recipient of the Purple Heart, the Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, Combat Infantry Badge and the Parachutist Badge.

Panther honors a "Hometown Hero" at each IZOD IndyCar Series race held in the United States.

Wheldon Releases "Lionheart" Photo Book This Weekend

This weekend will have a special surprise in store for local fans of Wheldon, who announced today he is releasing a photo book "Lionheart" he made in collaboration with respected lifestyle photographer Michael Voorhees.

"This Lionheart book has been three years in the making, so to launch it in my hometown at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is really exciting for me," Wheldon admitted. "Lionheart documents my IndyCar Series career starting with my rookie year in 2003 through my Indianapolis 500 win, to this season with Panther Racing. It gives fans a behind the scenes look at my life both on and off the racetrack. I think people who buy this book are really going to enjoy the candid moments captured by photographer Michael Voorhees and I can't thank him enough for his hard work and support on this project."

Voorhees is a longtime friend of Panther Racing as well, having photographed every Panther driver in some capacity since 2005, including Tomas Scheckter, Tomas Enge, Vitor Meira, Kosuke Matsuura and Wheldon.

"Dan and I both arrived in the IndyCar Series in 2003 and I was the lead photographer during this 2005 championship season when we won the Indy 500," Voorhees said. "I've been photographing Dan for various sponsors and personal photo shoots and we've developed a fantastic library of images that we felt his fans would really appreciate. It seemed only natural to produce a book that was very revealing and out of the ordinary for a race car driver."

-source: panther racing

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Tomas Enge , Dan Wheldon , Robert Doornbos , Kosuke Matsuura , Vitor Meira
Teams Panther Racing