Dan Wheldon will start his debut for the Panther Racing team from 18th on the grid after failing to make it past the opening phase of qualifying at the Nikon Indy 300.

In the first outing for his new team on Australia's Gold Coast, the former IndyCar Series was hoping to bounce back from a difficult day of practice on Friday but rain before and during the early stages of qualifying hit his chances.

A quickest lap of 1min 53.9106secs was good enough only for a place on row nine, although the qualifying format means three of the drivers ahead of the Briton on the grid posted slower times during the session.

"The changes we made prior to qualifying really improved the car, but it was a bit slick out there and that had a lot to do with the performance," he said. "It's been a bit of a difficult weekend for us and we lost the first day because of the braking problem.

"The good thing is that the focus for this weekend is to do everything we can to prepare for next season and that's what the Delphi National Guard team has done.

"We're looking forward to the race tomorrow and we'll think about trying some alternate strategies and do what we can to get a good result."



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