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Panther Pays Tribute to Dan Wheldon – Legend, Champion and Friend
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (October 17, 2011) – Panther would like to send its deepest condolences and respects to family and friends of Dan Wheldon, and more specifically to his wife Susie and their children Sebastian and Oliver. Dan is an IndyCar legend, a Champion, a friend, and one of the greatest ambassadors in the history of open-wheel racing and the Indianapolis 500.
Since making his IndyCar Series debut with Panther in 2002, and subsequently returning for the 2009 and 2010 seasons, Dan was an unbelievable representative of our team and partners. The passion and commitment that Dan showed to Soldiers of the National Guard, and Cadets in its Youth ChalleNGe program, and fans of this sport, is what set him apart. In our experience we cannot recall one instance where Dan said no to an autograph request, bypassed a photo request, or left an appearance without assuranceseverybody there who wanted to meet him had done so.
He was a special talent, a better person, and had a positive impact in the lives of so many in the sport. While Dan’s on-track success speaks for itself, it’s the professionalism, humor and spirit he showed outside the racecar that set him a cut above the rest. He will be missed, but always remembered.
Panther Looks to Lead Wheldon to Repeat Victory at Iowa Speedway
Wheldon is Defending Iowa Race Winner, Panther’s Indy Lights Program Captured 2008 Win Too
Panther Racing enters this weekend at Iowa Speedway with the defending winner of the IndyCar Series event, and as the defending race-winning team of the Firestone Indy Lights race. Dan Wheldon, who won at the bullring a year ago, will pilot the team’s No. 4 National Guard entry, and with Firestone Indy Lights drivers Martin Plowman and Pippa Mann looking to repeat the team’s victory at the 7/8-mile track in 2008.
Wheldon, whose last victory with Ganassi Racing came last year at Iowa, enters this weekend in sixth position in the IndyCar Series championship standings. Last season was a rebound victory for the Brit, who had crashed on the first lap of the inaugural Iowa Speedway event in 2007. Wheldon’s team made repairs to his car following that crash two years ago, and he rebounded to finish 11th in the race.
After the win last season, Wheldon and then-teammate Scott Dixon donated all of their winnings to recovery efforts for a flood that devastated the area just days prior to the IndyCar Series race.
Panther and former driver Vitor Meira had a strong showing at the first IndyCar race held in Iowa. Meira was dominant during the race, and led a race-high 71 laps before a suspension failure with just 34 laps remaining, which ended what appeared to be a strong shot at victory for the No. 4 team. Last year, a pair of pit-lane incidents relegated the team to a 15th-place finishing position.
The National Guard team is currently riding a streak of five consecutive Top Ten finishes, including a runner-up finish in the 93rd Indianapolis 500. In the two races since the ‘500’, Panther finished 10th at Milwaukee and seventh a week ago at Texas Motor Speedway. The only race this season the team has finished outside the Top Ten was the season opening event in St. Petersburg.
In Indy Lights, Panther has made three starts at Iowa with all resulting in Top Five finishes. Last season, Dillon Battistini won the race with a late-race pass of Arie Luyendyk Jr. as teammate Brent Sherman finished in fourth position. In 2007, team rookie Hideki Mutoh finished on the podium with a third-place result. The team’s current driver duo hopes to have similar success this weekend; Pippa is coming off her best career finish (ninth at Milwaukee) and Plowman is looking to duplicate his Top Five performance at Kansas Speedway earlier in the season.
The Iowa Corn Indy 225 will be broadcast live on ABC at 1 p.m. (EST), with additional coverage provided by the IMS Radio Network, www.indycar.com and Sirius/XM Channel 211.
Dan Wheldon, No. 4 National Guard Dallara Honda
“It’s always a nice feeling going back to a track were you’ve won, and Iowa is going to be a very competitive race. They key here is having a car that works well through turns one and two, and if you’re good through there then Iowa is a fun place to race. I figured I had to win the race last year after crashing on the first lap two years ago. Last year I was actually quicker with old tires if that makes sense. I was a lot slower after our pit stops so we decided to not stop late in the race and leave the old tires on. The Panther Racing guys have been working very hard on the National Guard car and we’re continuing to get better. The key for us is if we’ve got a chance to win a race, we have to take advantage.”
Pippa Mann, No. 16 Firestone Indy Lights
"Milwaukee was my first short track experience and that turned out pretty well with a Top Ten finish, so I'm confident going into Iowa that we will have a good weekend. Panther raced exceptionally well there winning the race last season with one car and finishing in fourth position with the other. Having a good base setup helps a lot when you go to a track that you never raced before, so I'm looking forward into this race to bring the car home with a good result and help us build our points in the championship.”
Martin Plowman, No. 15 Firestone Indy Lights
“I'm looking forward for the race in Iowa. Looking at last year's results I know Panther has a good setup there and this gives me the confidence I need going into a track that is new for me. It's another short oval but not like Milwaukee, this one is similar to the speedways that I'm more used to. I really want to use this race as a spring board to get back in the championship fight. So far we had a bit of bad luck but I know that Panther Racing is a good team and that we have speed and what it takes to get a big result."
Panther’s Hildebrand Returns to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for Test in DW12
National Guard Panther Racing Team Spends Day Testing New Chassis on Historic 2.5-mile Oval
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - (April 4, 2012) – It was a welcome return to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Wednesday afternoon for the National Guard Panther Racing team and driver JR Hildebrand, the reining Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year. Panther returned to the historic 2.5-mile oval where the team has finished runner-up in an unprecedented four-consecutive Indy 500s, and worked to get a handle on theIndyCar Series’ new DW12 chassis, which the team ran Wednesday for the first time at the Speedway.
Hildebrand turned a total of 45 laps during the test, and posted a top lap speed of 216.641 mph, 41.5434 seconds, which wasfifth on the final speed chart. The test included a total of nine drivers; five drivers running Chevrolet-powered cars and a total of four drivers from theHonda contingent. No drivers from Lotus-powered cars participated in the test. Team Chevy driver Marco Andretti posted the quickest lap of the day at 218.625 mph, 41.1664 seconds.
Panther has finished in second place in four-consecutive Indianapolis 500s with four different drivers; Vitor Meira(2008), Dan Wheldon (2009-2010) and Hildebrand (2011). The team has won Firestone Indy Lights races on both the road course (Hideki Mutoh, 2007) and oval (Dillon Battistini, 2008) at Indianapolis.
The next IndyCar Series race is the Grand Prix of Long Beach, which will be held a week from this Sunday and broadcast live on NBC Sports Network, with additional coverage provided by the IMS Radio Network, XM Channel 94 and Sirius Channel 212. Practice, qualifying and race coverage is also available on the new IndyCar Mobile app from Verizon.
JR Hildebrand, No. 4 National Guard Chevrolet:
“Any day running at the Speedway is a good day in my book. It’s kinda fun to get back here when there’s nothing else going on and I can just focus on driving the National Guard Chevy. The track is just a cool place – Indy’s a great place to do laps in a pace car, a street car or an IndyCar. As far as our testing went, we got through what we were hoping to get through today, and we were happy with the progress we made. I think there is an aspect of this where we’re all in the same boat and if we want to go faster we’ve got to wait for some things that are out of our hands to change to allow us to do that. I know it’s high on everybody’s list to get these speeds up – including the series and the manufacturers. It’s a matter of figuring out what it’s going to take to get there. We found some speed today in the adjustments we made with the racecar and we’ll see what we get when we come back here in a few weeks.”
Incident Concludes Day for National Guard Team, Carpenter Finishes 23rd on Final Speed Chart
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - (May 16, 2010) – National Guard Panther Racing driver Dan Wheldon finished his second day of practice Sunday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the seventh-quickest time on the final speed chart for the day. The day concluded with an incident in the fourth turn of the 1.5-mile Brickyard, as Wheldon’s No. 4 car spun as he was attempting to enter pit lane and made minor contact with the outside retaining wall.
Wheldon was cleared and released to drive following an X-ray this evening at Methodist Hospital for a deep bruise on his right foot. His top speed of the day was a 224.583 mph, 40.0742 seconds and was coming off an opening day practice where he finished fourth yesterday.
Teammate Ed Carpenter, driving the No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka entry that’s a collaborative effort between Panther and Vision Racing, had a productive day of running several settings on the car, and finished with the 23rd quickest time of the day.
Carpenter’s top lap was a 221.535 mph, 40.6256 seconds. He is preparing for his seventh Indianapolis 500-mile race and sixth with Vision Racing. Last season Carpenter started 17th and drove to an eighth-place finish. His best drive at Indianapolis came in 2008 when he started 10th, led his first career laps (3) and finished fifth.
IZOD IndyCar Series action resumes tomorrow for all competitors at 12:00 p.m. and runs until 6:00 p.m. Pole Day qualifications will be held this coming Saturday.
The 94th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race will be broadcast live on ABC on Sunday, May 30th at 12:00 p.m. with additional coverage provided by the IMS Radio Network, www.indycar.com, XM channel 145 and Sirius channel 211.
Wheldon Battles to Seventh Place Finish at Texas Motor Speedway
National Guard Driver Runs as High As Fifth, Settles for Sixth Top Ten of Season
FORT WORTH, Texas (June 6, 2009) – Dan Wheldon battled to a seventh place finish in Saturday night’s Bombardier Learjet 550 at Texas Motor Speedway, securing the team’s fifth consecutive Top Ten finish this season. With the finish, Wheldon remains in sixth position in the IndyCar Series championship standings, 47 points behind current points leader Ryan Briscoe.
After qualifying seventh for the race, Wheldon quickly moved within the Top Five by Lap 21 as he battled with the Andretti Green Racing duo of Marco Andretti and Danica Patrick. Those three drivers continued to battle throughout the night, into the final restart of the race on Lap 181, where Wheldon was able to move past Patrick for the fifth position, but then she took the position back on Lap 192 when she was able to get her nose below the No. 4 car on the backstretch. Wheldon slipped one more position as Andretti charged up through the field, but Wheldon held off championship rival Tony Kanaan for the seventh-place result.
Team Penske driver Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe finished first and second, respectively, giving the team two of the three podium positions. Scott Dixon was third.
The IndyCar Series will be off next weekend before traveling to Iowa Speedway on Sunday June 21st, with live television coverage on ABC at 1 p.m. (EST) and additional coverage provided by IMS Radio Network and XM Sirius Channel 211.
Wheldon is the defending winner of the Iowa Speedway event, after winning there with Ganassi Racing in 2008. It was one of two races he won in 2008 after finishing fourth in the IndyCar Series championship in the No. 10 car. Panther finished 15th there last season with Vitor Meira, after two incidents in pit lane ended what appeared to be at Top Five result. In 2007, Meira led 71 laps before finishing ninth after a suspension failure.
Dan Wheldon, No. 4 National Guard Dallara Honda
“For whatever reason, we just lacked a little bit of speed compared to what we had in practice and we geared the National Guard Panther Racing car to be quicker. Again, the Panther guys worked really hard and got us to the end, but we seem to make it difficult for ourselves sometimes. As time goes on, we’re going to continue to improve.”
Panther Moves to Sixth in Points Chase with Top Ten at Milwaukee
Wheldon Captures Fourth Top Ten Finish of Season, Advances One Spot in IndyCar Series Championship
WEST ALLIS, Wis. (May 31, 2009) – Panther Racing and driver Dan Wheldon advanced to sixth position in the IndyCar Series championship chase with a Top Ten finish Sunday at the Milwaukee Mile in the ABC Supply AJ Foyt 225. Wheldon, who started 14th, advanced to as high as seventh in the race before settling for a 10th-place result, his fourth Top Ten finish of the year in five starts. Sunday was his 100th consecutive IndyCar Series start.
Continuing on their solid performance from the Indianapolis 500, Panther’s pit crew assisted Wheldon on his climb from 14th on the grid. After Wheldon advanced to 12th on the track, his crew helped move their driver up two more spots in the pits on a trip to pit lane on Lap 59. Wheldon returned to the field in 10th place, and after passing Tony Kanaan on the track for ninth, the crew helped move Wheldon up another two positions during a green flag stop for the team on Lap 125.
Wheldon surpassed Kanaan in the point standings, after the Andretti Green Racing driver appeared to have an on-board fire during the race and retired early. Dan now trails current points leader Scott Dixon by 35 points, and fifth-place Helio Castroneves by 10 points.
Dixon was the winner of the race, with Team Penske driver Ryan Briscoe second and Dario Franchitti third.
In the Firestone Indy Lights race held earlier in the afternoon, Panther driver Pippa Mann captured her best career Indy Lights finish with a ninth-place result. Teammate Martin Plowman had an issue with his brakes on the first lap of the race and had to pull into pit lane to make repairs. He finished 15th.
The team will now prepare for next weekend’s battle at the thrilling Texas Motor Speedway, site of five of Panther’s 15 career victories. The five wins is more than any other team in the history of TMS, and now Wheldon hopes to join the likes of Scott Goodyear, Sam Hornish Jr. and Tomas Scheckter as drivers of the team’s No. 4 car to have captured victory at the high-banked 1.5-mile oval.
The Bombardier Learjet 550 will be broadcast live on Versus at 9:00 p.m. (EST) with additional coverage provided by the IMS Radio network and Sirius/XM Channel 211.
Dan Wheldon, No. 4 National Guard Dallara Honda
“Obviously it was a difficult weekend; when you miss the first session on a short weekend like this, it makes it very difficult. The top three cars today seemed to be in a class of their own. On a long run we were pretty good, we just didn’t quite have the speed and just needed a bit more rear security so we could drive deeper into the corners. You need that to be fast around here. We’re going to continue to work hard and I’m sure that the entire National Guard Panther Racing team is going to get stronger and the season goes on. We’ve learned some important things this weekend, and in a competitive series like this we know where we need to improve and we’re heading in a good direction.”
Martin Plowman, No. 15 Firestone Indy Lights
“Pretty much this was a weekend to forget. We took a direction in qualifying that didn’t work for me and during the race we encountered brake problems. My race basically started with 15 laps down, so we used it as a test to improve the car looking forward to the rest of the season. After the middle of the race I was pretty happy with the balance of the car and was running the same speed as some Top Five cars. Thankfully this is a very unique place and it’s not an indicator for the rest of the season.”
Pippa Mann, No. 16 Firestone Indy Lights:
“Finally I got to see a checkered flag on an oval! We were running our own little race out there. After qualifying I hoped we could tag along with the leaders and run with the front pack, but on race pace I couldn’t stick with the faster cars. The guys did an awesome job giving me a well balanced car, so it was a good experience for me to complete this race heading to Iowa. We had a rough start of the season but we are working hard to turn it around.”
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