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Q&A: Dan Wheldon ( Panther Racing).

Well, I didn't know that to tell you the truth. I mean, that's certainly something, to have been around a long time. You're making me feel old, but I've had some great opportunities in IndyCar. I've been with some great teams, and I'm with a great team now. I'm working very hard towards adding to my win tally and, more importantly, adding another Indianapolis 500 to my résumé.

But I've very much enjoyed the IndyCar Series. I think it's certainly evolved since I first raced in 2002. The competition level now is very, very intense. I think even with the tough economic times that we have ahead of us, the series continues to thrive, and with partners like National Guard being involved with Panther Racing, with Honda and Firestone and Dallara, I expect it to just get stronger and stronger.

I'm proud to be part of it. I really, really do enjoy all the different types of disciplines that we go to. You go to a three-quarter mile track at Richmond and then we go to a real big oval like Indianapolis or on the streets of Long Beach. We go to Watkins Glen, we've got the one-mile up in Milwaukee. It's incredibly challenging, and I enjoy that aspect of it.

I definitely like the way Brian Barnhart runs the series. I think the element of competition and safety he continues to evolve as best he can and to put on a great spectacle for the fans. I hope I can do many more races, but I think the one thing that I've learned in those 100 races is how good that milk tastes [at the Indianapolis 500], and I'd definitely like to taste it again.

Q:
A couple questions about your return to Panther. Being with Panther, when you've also had the opportunity to race for Andretti Green and Target Chip Ganassi - two very good teams in the IndyCar Series - what do you notice between those three teams? How are they different from each other in terms of philosophy, in terms of how they approach things, not necessarily one way is better than the other, but obviously everybody does things a little bit differently. What are some of the differences that you notice between the three teams and how they go about things?

DW:
Well, that's a hard thing to say. They're all very, very different, obviously. I would say that Panther is obviously a smaller operation being a one-car team, and some people say it's more of like a family-type atmosphere. But, to some degree, I think that it doesn't... when you say that about Panther Racing, what people miss with that, although it does have that element, it's incredibly driven. Everybody in the shop is very, very hungry, and I must say that about Andretti Green and Target Chip Ganassi Racing. That's the common goal that they all share.

Now, they're run in different ways. I think obviously Target Chip Ganassi Racing is more of a corporate-type team; Andretti Green is obviously a very big operation running four cars. But if I was to tell you all the differences, we'd probably be on this teleconference for a long time. They're all very, very different but, by the same token, they all have that same goal and passion to win. The personnel that the teams have are very, very talented, and that's what you need to be able to win in the IndyCar Series.

I've been part of these teams for a long time - obviously Andretti Green for three years, a little bit more than that actually, and the same with Target Chip Ganassi Racing and now being part of Panther, they're all great experiences. They are different, but they are all great in their own ways.

As a driver, what you have to do is maximise the positives from the team. There's always going to be stuff in teams that perhaps one does better than the other, but you've really got to make sure that you get the best out of the team that you're part of and use the experience that you've had in different teams to make the team that you're with currently be better.

I really am enjoying my time at Panther Racing. Being a one-car team, there's a lot of responsibility on me, and I like that aspect. I'm looking forward to really growing and being a big part of the team. Like I say, they're all very good in their own ways, and I've really enjoyed being part of all of them, I really have, both from a business standpoint and a personal standpoint.

Q:


Related Pictures

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Indy Racing League. 24-25 Feb. 2009. IRL Homestead Test.  Homestead Internation Raceway. Homestead, Florida. Dan Wheldon.
Simon Pagenaud - Team Penske   [pic credit: IndyCar Media/Richard Dowdy]
Simon Pagenaud - Team Penske   [pic credit: IndyCar Media/Chris Owens]
Simon Pagenaud - Team Penske   [pic credit: IndyCar Media/Richard Dowdy]
Simon Pagenaud - Team Penske   [pic credit: IndyCar Media/Chris Owens]
Will Power - Team Penske   [pic credit: IndyCar Media/Chris Jones]
Helio Castroneves (Team Penske) celebrates pole at Long Beach   [pic credit: IndyCar Media/Chris Jones]
Helio Castroneves - Team Penske    [pic credit: IndyCar Media/Chris Owens]
Helio Castroneves - Team Penske   [pic credit: IndyCar Media/Chris Jones]
Will Power - Team Penske   [pic credit: IndyCar Media/Richard Dowdy)
Ryan Hunter-Reay - Andretti Autosport   [pic credit: IndyCar media/Chris Jones]
Will Power - Team Penske   [pic credit: IndyCar Media/Chris Owens]
Will Power - Team Penske   [pic credit: IndyCar Media/Chris Owens]
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6 celebrates his victory Sunday, March 13, 2016 after winning the Verizon IndyCar Series Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg, Florida. It is the second year in a row Montoya has won this race. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6 celebrates his victory Sunday, March 13, 2016 after winning the Verizon IndyCar Series Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg, Florida. It is the second year in a row Montoya has won this race. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6 takes the chequered flag to victory Sunday, March 13, 2016 during the Verizon IndyCar Series Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg, Florida. It is the second year in a row Montoya has won this race. (Photo by Sam Cobb/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6 races to victory Sunday, March 13, 2016 during the Verizon IndyCar Series Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg, Florida. It is the second year in a row Montoya has won this race. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Juan Pablo Montoya celebrates his second successive victory in the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Photo by: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media)

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