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Q&A: Dan Wheldon ( Panther Racing).

Well, it's a great track to go to. St Petersburg was a very good event - it wasn't just a great race, it was a very good event. Long Beach certainly has some history with IndyCars, and it's always great to go to places that have that because I think it makes the event even more exciting for not just the drivers but for the fans, too. So it's a great place to go back to.

I think, as far as street tracks go, it's very good. You can overtake, you've got the long straightaway. If you have a good run at that final hairpin you can draft and, hopefully, out-brake somebody into turn one. But I'm excited to be back. I was always very good there in Atlantics and Indy Lights, and as the competition is so close, it's really fun to be part of the series right now. You've got to be on your game. The team has got to be on your game. You've got to have great pit-stops. So I think it's going to be just as exciting as St Petersburg.

Q:
And then after Long Beach we get onto the mile-and-a-half ovals for the first time when we go to Kansas in a few weeks from now. You've won the last two races there and, before that, you were second twice in a row. What is it about Kansas that suits you so well?

DW:
I really don't know, but yeah, I'm hoping I can make it three in a row. I know, if you look at the team's results on the one-and-a-half-mile ovals, they're very, very strong. Certainly, we're going to try to continue to make the team stronger.

I think Kansas is going to be particularly important this year because it leads into Indianapolis. Normally, we're able to have Homestead and Kansas but, with the changing schedule and making Homestead the last race of the season, Kansas is our first oval race before leading into the month of May. So it's going to be incredibly important for us, so I think certainly with the development that we have in mind and even the experience that we have at Kansas and the experience we'll take out of Kansas, I think we'll certainly have one eye on Indianapolis.

But I would expect the same thing there. It's going to be a very intense race. Each year, the track tends to lose a little bit of grip, so you're going to have to work hard on having a good handling race car across the seams that the racetrack has and being fast. But I really wish I knew what made me good around there and Homestead, but it seems to certainly suit my style, and with the fact that I've now moved to the National Guard Panther Racing team, I would expect us to be very, very strong, and I'm excited to go back there.

Q:
A couple years ago, you had won three straight at Homestead, in '05, '06, '07, and tried for that fourth in a row in '08. Not many drivers get the chance to win three or four straight on a track. Is it something that you put any type of special emphasis on, trying to get that third win in a row at a place, or is it just the mentality to take one race at a time and try to win every race that you go out and start?

DW:
It doesn't matter what track that you go to, you just have to be committed to winning every weekend. If you go with the approach of just scoring a top five finish, typically you're going to do that or worse. You've got to set your goals very high.

With all these racetracks, it doesn't matter where you go, you have to have that focus and that determination to win. It's so competitive. I keep talking about it, but if you look at the race from St Petersburg, you'll certainly see that. You can't afford to miss anything. I personally love to be on top of that podium, and certainly I know Panther do, so that's what we try to do each individual race.

Q:
And one more thing about Kansas - it will be your 100th career start in the IndyCar Series. What does that milestone mean to you?

DW:


Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Indy Racing League. 24-25 Feb. 2009. IRL Homestead Test.  Homestead Internation Raceway. Homestead, Florida. Dan Wheldon.
Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to a fourteenth-place finish Saturday, July 13, 2014 at the Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. Power lost the championship points lead to teammate Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, who finished eighth. (Photo by Dan Streck/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Ryan Hunter-Reay waits on pitlane prior to practice at Pocono Raceway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Justin Wilson and Charlie Kimball go side-by-side for the start of the Pocono INDYCAR 500 (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay with an early pit stop during the Pocono INDYCAR 500 (Photo by: Bret Kelley for IndyCar Media)
Justin Wilson exits Turn 2 during practice for the Pocono INDYCAR 500 at Pocono Raceway (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Justin Wilson waits on pit lane prior to qualifications for the Pocono INDYCAR 500 (Photo by: Bret Kelley for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves celebrates second place (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves on pit road (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves leads Ryan Briscoe (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves on pit lane prior to qualifications for the Pocono INDYCAR 500 at Pocono Raceway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves heads down the Long Pond Straightaway during practice for the Pocono INDYCAR 500 at Pocono Raceway (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory Sunday, July 6, 2014 during the Pocono IndyCar 500 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, takes the chequered flag as he races to victory Sunday, July 6, 2014 during the Pocono IndyCar 500 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to victory Sunday, July 6, 2014 during the Pocono IndyCar 500 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to victory Sunday, July 6, 2014 during the Pocono IndyCar 500 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Race winner Juan Pablo Montoya celebrates with Helio Castroneves and Carlos Munoz on the podium after the Pocono IndyCar 500. (Photo by: Bret Kelley for IndyCar Media)
Juan Pablo Montoya crosses the finish line to win at Pocono Raceway (Photo by: Bret Kelley for IndyCar Media)

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