IRL: Chicagoland: AGR, Wheldon race report

Wheldon Drives Klein Tools/Jim Beam Car to Fourth-Place Finish at Chicagoland JOLIET, Ill. (Sept. 12, 2004) - Klein Tools/Jim Beam driver Dan Wheldon grabbed his tenth top-four finish in 2004 by piloting the ...

Wheldon Drives Klein Tools/Jim Beam Car to Fourth-Place Finish at Chicagoland

JOLIET, Ill. (Sept. 12, 2004) - Klein Tools/Jim Beam driver Dan Wheldon grabbed his tenth top-four finish in 2004 by piloting the #26 entry to a fourth-place result at the Delphi Indy 300 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill. It was Wheldon's fifth-straight top-four performance.

Wheldon began the race in the fifth spot and quickly moved up in the pack. Within the first two laps, the Klein Tools/Jim Beam car had gained three spots and was running second. On lap 21, Wheldon was trailing Buddy Rice, and the two began a duel that would go on for nearly the entire race. On lap 45, Wheldon took the lead with Rice on his tail. After his first pit stop occurred under the green flag, Wheldon returned to the track in eighth, and within three laps was sitting fourth.

On lap 89, Wheldon beat Rice out of the pit by a fraction of a second to take the lead again. For more than 50 laps, Wheldon and Rice exchanged the first and second positions during green-flag racing and two cautions. On lap 156, Wheldon was running fourth when a yellow flag came out. The third place driver, Vitor Meira, had to pit because of a flat tire, moving Wheldon into third place where he would ride until lap 195.

With the fourth-place finish and a Rice accident with 14 laps remaining, Wheldon gained valuable points on Rice in the Indy Racing League IndyCar® Series points championship. Wheldon is in second place (463 points), and leads Rice by 20 points with two races remaining.

Adrian Fernandez won his second race of the season and was followed by three Andretti Green Racing drivers. Bryan Herta, who's XM Satellite Radio car was sporting the logo of Turn-Key Forging & Design, Inc. on its side pods, grabbed his highest finish of the year, coming in second. Tony Kanaan finished third, followed by Wheldon and Meira, who finished fifth.

The IndyCar Series season resumes on Sunday, Oct. 3 at California Speedway. The 15th race of the 2004 schedule will be televised by ESPN with live coverage from Fontana, Calif., beginning at 3 p.m. (EDT).

Dan Wheldon, #26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone:

"I had a very, very clean race with Buddy (Rice) and he was excellent to drive with today. We drove very hard together, but it was another fantastic result for Andretti Green Racing and the Klein Tools/Jim Beam crew. To finish 2-3-4, that's a great day. It was a difficult race out there and it's just a shame we can't race as close as this without incidents happening."

Tony Cotman, Team Manager, #26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone:

"This was one of those races where you just have to hang around until the last 25 or 30 laps, and then it's a free-for-all from there. Because of the late yellows, (Adrian) Fernandez was in the right place at the right time. Overall, I'm just really happy with the whole Klein Tools/Jim Beam team. The guys did a great job in the pits today, so we have a lot to be proud of."

-agr-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Adrian Fernandez , Tony Kanaan , Bryan Herta , Dan Wheldon , Buddy Rice , Jim Beam , Vitor Meira