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Wheldon, Patrick buoyed by 500.

Before the 2009 season started, Dan Wheldon felt confident that his move to Panther Racing would allow him compete for race wins. Similarly, Danica Patrick, in her third season with Andretti Green Racing, was confident that she could follow up on last year's win at Twin Ring Motegi with additional victories in 2009.

Neither driver walked home with the Borg-Warner Trophy following Sunday's Indianapolis 500, but both showed that their pre-season confidence may not have been misguided.

Wheldon finished a spirited drive from 18th in second place - his highest finish on the 2.5-mile oval since winning in 2005 - while Patrick finished third, bettering her fourth-place debut finish from that same season.

"I'm incredibly proud of the Panther Racing National Guard Team," Wheldon said, "In my IndyCar Series career there's not many races where I've honestly left the track feeling that we've executed everything perfectly, and I have to say I thought they did an absolute phenomenal job. The pit-stops were just first class - I didn't have to do too much work on track because they kept making me spots."

The finish was the third consecutive top ten for Wheldon and moved him into seventh in points as the series heads to Milwaukee for the ABC Supply/AJ Foyt 225 this weekend.

Patrick's third consecutive top five finish has her lying sixth in the standings, identical to her career-best position last year, and just 13 points behind leader Dario Franchitti.

"I think it was a good day," Patrick said, "I'm really happy. I wish it would have ended up a little bit better than what it did, but that's the way it goes here.

"I'm doing my job - to finish as high as possible and get as many wins as possible. So I'm actually glad about that shift. I'm paid to do this job, so I wish it could have been a little bit better, like I said, but it was a good day overall."

Both drivers now hope to continue their momentum at Milwaukee, where Wheldon has four consecutive top ten finishes at the track and Patrick three.

Related Pictures

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Alexander Rossi - Andretti Autosport   [pic credit: Chris Jones/IndyCar Media]

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