INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Just two weeks removed from the final IndyCar Series race of the season, the 2010 year is already upon us. And even with five months between now and the start of the new season in Brazil, Panther Racing and driver Dan Wheldon are eager to get to work on a new season.

“What I can tell you is that we’re going to be fighting tooth and nail to improve,” team owner John Barnes said. “We’ve got a group here that we really like, and I’ve made clear in the last two weeks what my expectations are for our team and driver.”

A year highlighted by another second-place finish at the Indianapolis 500 was marred by several events where speed wasn’t rewarded with results. In the last four races alone, Panther watched as a Top Ten slipped away with a broken wing at Infineon, a podium car was spoiled by a broken half-shaft at Chicago and an ill-time caution took a potential victory away in Japan.

Despite the misfortune, team officials remain positive about a package that again nearly won IndyCar's biggest prize at the Greatest Spectacle in Racing. And while the final month of the season didn't yield results, the performance of the No. 4 car shows the team will contend next year.

“I’m excited for next season, honestly,” Wheldon said recently before traveling to the UK to visit family. “Anytime I’m out of a racecar for too long I get restless. But I feel like we made some progress towards the end of the season after some struggles that show we’re heading in the right direction.”

Wheldon’s return to Panther in 2009 concluded with the former Indy 500 winner ranked 10th in the championship with three Top Five and nine Top Ten finishes.

“My goals are to win races,” Wheldon said when asked of his expectations for next year. “Obviously we haven’t achieved everything we wanted for the season, so for next year I’d like to build on the momentum that we’ve created this year and make it a winning season.”

Sponsorship details for the team’s No. 4 car effort will be released in the coming weeks.