PANTHER PARTNERS WITH VISION RACING, ENTERS ED CARPENTER IN 94TH INDIANAPOLIS 500
Carpenter Set to Pilot No. 20 Entry Alongside Former Indy 500 Winner Dan Wheldon
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (April 7, 2010) – Panther Racing announced today it has partnered with Vision Racing and will enter Ed Carpenter in the No. 20 Dallara Honda during next month’s 94th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race. The collaboration between the two IZOD IndyCar Series teams will pair Carpenter with full-time Panther driver Dan Wheldon, pilot of the No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing entry.
“We looked at a lot of opportunities for the Month of May, and as strong as Vision Racing has run the last few years, we felt like partnering with them made a lot of sense for us,” John Barnes, CEO and co-owner of Panther Racing, said. “I feel that Ed (Carpenter) is a threat to win at any race he runs, and he’s proved that to this league in the last two or three years. His addition to the National Guard team along with Dan Wheldon is going to make our entire team stronger. I honestly hope this isn’t a one-and-done deal, and we very much look forward to the opportunity of expanding this and running more IZOD IndyCar Series races together this season.”
The partnership is even more special for Barnes, who has been friends with Vision team owner Tony George for over 20 years.
“I am very pleased that we have this opportunity to partner with an excellent organization. This collaboration with Panther Racing will allow two teams that want nothing else but to compete and strive for success in the upcoming Indianapolis 500 the opportunity do so to the best of their abilities,” George said. “With this partnership between teams and drivers, we will also be able to maximize the potential of both parties and field what I am sure will be a very formidable two-car effort. There are close personal and professional relationships within our two organizations that should allow us to put forth a cohesive effort we will all be proud of and have high expectations for achieving results.”
Six-year IndyCar Series veteran Ed Carpenter will make a return behind the wheel of the No. 20 that he has driven since Vision Racing’s inception in 2005. The 29-year-old Indianapolis resident finished the 2009 season by earning his career best finish of second, matched his career best start of fourth, led 35 laps and drove to six top-ten finishes.
“I am very excited not only to be returning to the Indianapolis 500, but also working with Panther Racing,” Ed Carpenter, who finished fifth and eighth in the last two runnings of the Indianapolis 500, explained. “John Barnes has been a family friend for a long time, and I very grateful for this opportunity. I feel that with my experience, Vision Racing’s experience and Panther Racing’s experience and success at Indianapolis that we will be a very competitive duo. It has been very hard watching from the sidelines so far this season, and I am very motivated to compete for my first win.”
Panther Racing, who boasts 15 IndyCar Series wins and two league championships, is currently ninth in the championship standings with Wheldon after the first two races of the 2010 season. The team has finished runner-up in each of the last two Indianapolis 500s; in 2008 with Vitor Meira and again last year with Wheldon.
“I believe the addition of Ed Carpenter and Vision Racing to the National Guard Panther Racing group is phenomenal,” Wheldon said. “Ed’s always been very quick, especially around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and I’m very much looking forward to being able to have a teammate of his caliber. I know we’ll work together well and be able to move the team forward, which will give us both a chance to win the Indianapolis 500. And it’s also very positive to have Vision’s involvement in the Panther program. I’m excited about being able to use some of their expertise and it’s great to see them back on track – they’re a team that was very close to their first IZOD IndyCar Series victory in Kentucky last year, and this partnership will get all of us one step close to victory lane.”
Vision Racing returns to IZOD IndyCar Series competition for the Indianapolis 500 as a result of this partnership with Panther Racing after suspending racing operations on January, 28, 2010 until such time that sponsorship could be secured.
“It has been an exceptionally long and extended off-season for Vision Racing that has recently had us turning our attention solely to the Indianapolis 500. The challenge of putting together a sponsorship package to enable Vision Racing to run the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series schedule proved to be much more difficult than anticipated but our intention is to be back competing full-time in the future,” George explained. “Taking part in the 2010 Indianapolis 500 has been a priority and while we have yet to solidify a sponsorship lineup for the No. 20 Panther-Vision entry for Indy, we expect to make some sponsorship announcements in the coming weeks.”