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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

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Indy Racing League. 24-25 Feb. 2009. IRL Homestead Test.  Homestead Internation Raceway. Homestead, Florida. Dan Wheldon.
IMS logo on a Firestone Tire (Photo by: Dana Garrett for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V-6, celebrates his victory Sunday, April 19, 2015 after winning the Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Long Beach in the streets of Long Beach, California. (Photo by Russell LaBounty/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Chevrolet sweeps the podium as Juan Pablo Montoya (l to r), driver of the #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar; Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Verizon Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet V-6 and Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Automobile Club of Southern California Team Penske Chevrolet V-6, celebrate Saturday, April 18, 2015 after finishing third, first and second in the Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Long Beach through the streets of Long Beach, California. (Photo by Russell LaBounty/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6 pumps his fist as he crosses the finish line, winning the Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Long Beach on Sunday, April 19, 2015 in the streets of Long Beach, California. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6 races to victory Sunday, April 19, 2015 winning the Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Long Beach in the streets of Long Beach, California. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Helio Castroneves and Scott Dixon lead the field into Turn 1 during the start of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Sunday April 19 2015. (Photo by: Richard Dowdy for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon enters Turn 3 during the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Sunday April 19 2015. (Photo by: Richard Dowdy for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon navigates the fountain turn complex during the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Sunday April 19 2015. (Photo by: Richard Dowdy for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon wins the 41st Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Sunday April 19 2015. (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
The confetti flies in Victory Lane for Scott Dixon, Helio Castroneves, and Juan Pablo Montoya on Sunday April 19 2015. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon celebrates in Victory Lane following his win in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Sunday April 19 2015. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon drinks the champagne following his win in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Sunday April 19 2015. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon drinks the champagne following his win in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Sunday April 19 2015. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Josef Newgarden apexes the hairpin turn during qualifications for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. (Photo by: Richard Dowdy for IndyCar Media)
Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Automobile Club of Southern California Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, celebrates winning the pole Saturday, April 18, 2015 for Sunday`s Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Long Beach through the streets of Long Beach, California. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Automobile Club of Southern California Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, celebrates winning the pole Saturday, April 18, 2015 for Sunday`s Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Long Beach through the streets of Long Beach, California. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Automobile Club of Southern California Team Penske Chevrolet V-6 IndyCar, qualifies fastest, winning the pole Saturday, April 18, 2015 for Sunday`s Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Long Beach through the streets of Long Beach, California. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)

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