WHELDON COLLECTS A COOL $1 MILLION AS CHAMPION'S BONUS HOLLYWOOD, Calif., Monday, Oct. 17, 2005 -- One day after completing a record-shattering IRL IndyCarÂ® Series season, Dan Wheldon got to celebrate his IndyCar Series championship -- ...
WHELDON COLLECTS A COOL $1 MILLION AS CHAMPION'S BONUS
HOLLYWOOD, Calif., Monday, Oct. 17, 2005 -- One day after completing a record-shattering IRL IndyCar® Series season, Dan Wheldon got to celebrate his IndyCar Series championship -- again.
This time, the IndyCar Series champion and newly crowned Menards Infiniti Pro Series champion Wade Cunningham -- along with other drivers, teams and manufacturers -- were recognized during the Indy Racing League Championship Celebration at Paramount Pictures Studio. Emmy Award winner Dennis Miller hosted the awards show at the Paramount Theatre, with a dinner and party afterward on the studio grounds. The program will be broadcast at Noon (EST) Oct. 23 on ESPN2.
"In this day and age of motor racing, it's difficult to win races alone -- in particular in the IndyCar Series because of how competitive it is," said Wheldon, who drove the No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone to a single-season-record six victories and led a series-record 15 races.
"To be able to win the Indianapolis 500 and the championship is an unbelievable achievement. The season has been 17 races and we've been on every different type of track you could imagine -- street course, permanent road course, short ovals, big ovals, the intermediate ones. To put together a season in which we've won a lot and been very consistent truly means a lot.
"Having champion on your resume can never be taken away, and I think a championship is important to team owners and everybody from the person who sweeps the shop floors to the bosses. It pays people back that put a lot of faith in you."
IRL founder and CEO Tony George presented Wheldon a $1 million championship bonus check and a replica of the IndyCar Series championship trophy. A mini IndyCar Series championship trophy also was awarded to Andretti Green Racing.
Danica Patrick of Rahal Letterman Racing accepted the $50,000 Bombardier Rookie of the Year Award, while Andretti Green Racing's Dario Franchitti received $25,000 for winning the Argent Mortgage Fastest Lap Award. Patrick Carpentier of Red Bull Cheever Racing won The Rising Star trophy.
"It is a big honor to be both Indy 500 (JP Morgan Chase Rookie of the Year) and IRL IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year," said Patrick, the second (Kosuke Matsuura in 2004) to accomplish that feat. "That is the goal of every rookie driver."
Carpentier received his award, which which honors the late Tony Renna, from IRL President and COO Brian Barnhart and Debbie Savini. Franchitti clinched the season-long Argent Mortgage Fastest Lap award with four fastest laps during the 2005 season.
Argent Mortgage, the official mortgage company of the Indy Racing League, awarded $25,000 to Andretti Green Racing for Franchitti's accomplishment. As part of the award, Franchitti will visit Camp Heartland, a Minneapolis-based charity that makes a profound year-round and lifelong difference for children, teenagers and young adults impacted by HIV/AIDS. Argent has supported Camp Heartland for three consecutive years and is the organization's largest cumulative donor to date.
Two-time IndyCar Series champion Sam Horning Jr. accepted the $20,000 BOSCH Platinum Award and the $20,000 Marlboro Pole Award. Mike Horvath of Andretti Green Racing won the Chief Mechanic of the Year Award and its $25,000 prize.
XM Satellite Radio was named the league's Marketer of the Year, and Infineon Raceway was named the Promoter of the Year. The facility in Sonoma, Calif., hosted the first permanent road-course event in series history, and the successful August event was a harbinger of growth.
Cunningham accepted the Firestone Firehawk Cup along with a $5,000 award from Lincoln Electric Co. as champion of the Menards Infiniti Pro Series. The driver from New Zealand gave Brian Stewart Racing its first series title.
<pre> IndyCar Series award winners
Championship driver: Dan Wheldon Herff Jones Championship Driver Award (ring): Dan Wheldon TAG Heuer Championship Driver Award (watch): Dan Wheldon Championship team: Andretti Green Racing Championship team sponsor: Klein Tools, Jim Beam Championship team manager: John Anderson
Chief Mechanic of the Year Award ($25,000): Mike Horvath, Andretti Green Racing
Engine manufacturer champion: Honda
Bombardier Rookie of the Year Award ($50,000): Danica Patrick The Rising Star Award: Patrick Carpentier Argent Mortgage Fastest Lap Award ($25,000): Dario Franchitti
Second place championship driver: Tony Kanaan Second place championship team: Andretti Green Racing
Third place championship driver: Sam Hornish Jr. Third place championship team: Marlboro Team Penske
BOSCH Platinum Award ($20,000): Sam Hornish Jr. Marlboro Pole Award ($20,000): Sam Hornish Jr.
Manufacturer Recognition Awards: Firestone Racing, Delphi, Dallara, Panoz, Xtrac, Chevrolet, Toyota, K&N Filters. Delphi Safety Award: Bob Falcon IRL Marketer of the Year Award: XM Satellite Radio Promoter of the Year Award: Infineon Raceway
Menards Infiniti Pro Series award winners
Championship driver (mini Firehawk Cup): Wade Cunningham Herff Jones Championship Driver Award (ring): Wade Cunningham Lincoln Electric Company Championship Driver Award ($5,000): Wade Cunningham Championship team (mini Firehawk Cup): Brian Stewart Racing Lincoln Electric Company Championship Team Award (welding product): Brian Stewart Racing
Second place championship driver: Jeff Simmons Second place championship team: Kenn Hardley Racing Lincoln Electric Company Second Place Championship Team Award (welding product): Kenn Hardley Racing
Third place championship driver: Travis Gregg Third place championship team: Sam Schmidt Motorsports Lincoln Electric Company Third Place Championship Team Award (welding product): Sam Schmidt Motorsports
The Oxley Financial Advisory Group of Raymond James and Associates Lap Leader Award ($5,000): Travis Gregg