St. Pete: Panther Racing race report

Wheldon, Panther Finish 20th in St. Petersburg After Turn One Incident; Right-Rear Suspension Failure, Contact with Moraes End National Guard Team's Day Early ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - (March 29, 2010) -- National Guard Panther Racing and driver...

Wheldon, Panther Finish 20th in St. Petersburg After Turn One Incident; Right-Rear Suspension Failure, Contact with Moraes End National Guard Team's Day Early

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - (March 29, 2010) -- National Guard Panther Racing and driver Dan Wheldon had a frustrating end to the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg as a right-rear suspension failure led to a crash in the middle of the event, placing the team 20th on the final grid. Wheldon had started the event in 15th position, but moved to within the Top Ten competitors early in the race before the incident.

With the finish today, Wheldon and the National Guard Panther Racing team are currently ninth in the championship standings, just ahead of Andretti Autosport driver Danica Patrick.

Panther was one of few teams who elected to start the race on Firestone black tires, and Wheldon was able to pick up several spots at the drop of the green flag when both Dario Franchitti and Mike Conway had trouble on the first lap. Once the race resumed, Wheldon picked off three drivers -- Hideki Mutoh, Conway and Simona de Silvestro -- individually in the first turn braking zone.

That put Panther's driver in 10th place as he pitted on Lap 27 during the second caution period of the day.

On Lap 46, as Wheldon was under braking for the first turn, a failure in the right-rear suspension sent the No. 4 car sliding into Mario Moraes and spinning into the tire barrier in the run-off area. Both competitors were unable to continue following the incident. Wheldon was running 11th at the time of the accident.

Penske Racing driver Will Power won his second consecutive IZOD IndyCar Series race, with Dreyer & Reinbold driver Justin Wilson and Ryan Briscoe joining the Australian on the podium.

Dan Wheldon, No. 4 National Guard Dallara Honda

"We were running very strongly and had positioned ourselves well and had a good strategy going. It was a big hit, and I have to say sorry to the KV Racing crew for hitting Mario. We probably got a little lucky to come away with as little damage as we did. These things happen in motor racing. But today goes to show you that the National Guard Panther Racing team is really going to be a force to be reckoned with, and I'm proud to be part of this group. I've got to say the National Guard boys and Panther Racing have done a superb job. There are troops out there in Iraq and Afghanistan with their lives on the line to enable us to roam this country freely -- so that makes incidents like today feel like nothing.

-source: panther racing

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Dario Franchitti , Dan Wheldon , Mike Conway , Will Power , Simona de Silvestro , Mario Moraes , Hideki Mutoh , Danica Patrick
Teams Andretti Autosport , Panther Racing , Team Penske