IRL: Chicagoland: AGR/Wheldon race report

Klein Tools/Jim Beam Driver Dan Wheldon Matches Career-Best with Fourth-Place Finish at Chicagoland JOLIET, Ill. (Sept. 7, 2003) -- Klein Tools/Jim Beam rookie driver Dan Wheldon matched his Indy Racing League IndyCarTM Series career-best with a...

Klein Tools/Jim Beam Driver Dan Wheldon Matches Career-Best with Fourth-Place Finish at Chicagoland

JOLIET, Ill. (Sept. 7, 2003) -- Klein Tools/Jim Beam rookie driver Dan Wheldon matched his Indy Racing League IndyCarTM Series career-best with a fourth place finish in the Delphi Indy 300 at Chicagoland Speedway.

Wheldon led his first laps as an IndyCar Series competitor on Sunday, battling for the point with Tomas Schectker 80 laps into the race. He continued at or near the front of the field for the rest of the race. Wheldon led a total of 31 laps en route to his fourth place finish. The Klein Tools/Jim Beam crew also had a scare late in the race when the yellow flag came out on lap 187. Wheldon was preparing to pit for a splash of fuel, but would have been trapped a lap down if he had come into the pits as the yellow flew. Wheldon cautiously brought the #26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone around the track until the pit lane opened up on lap 190. After the caution period ended, Wheldon was in the middle of a six-lap shootout that came down to the final three feet of the 300-mile race.

Sam Hornish won his second race of the year in a three-way photo finish with Scott Dixon and Wheldon's teammate Bryan Herta in the third closest finish in IndyCar Series history. Dixon was second in the three-wide finish, nosing ahead of Herta, who led nine of the final 11 laps. Today's race also brought Wheldon closer to Roger Yasukawa in the IndyCar Series Rookie-of-the-Year standings. Wheldon trails Yasukawa by only ten points with two races remaining.

The wild race at Chicagoland also led to a shake-up in the IndyCar Series points as Helio Castroneves leads Dixon by 12 points and Tony Kanaan by just 14.

The IndyCar Series gets back into action, two weeks from today at California Speedway for the penultimate race of the 2003 season.

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

"It was crazy out there, especially near the end of the race when everybody was fighting for the win. The Klein Tools/Jim Beam crew did a great job in the pits, they gave me great pit stops. Tony Cotman also did a great job by making some good strategy calls, including not taking tires on the third stop."

Tony Cotman, Team Manager, Klein Tools/Jim Beam

"This all stems back to the test and Dan had a good test here. We had a pretty good race car. He did a great job in the first stint on fuel mileage and, from there, that got us going. We led quite a lot today, so that was really good for him and good for Klein Tools/Jim Beam and everybody on the car.

"The pit stops were absolutely outstanding -- probably the four best stops I've seen in a hell of a long time. I can't commend the boys enough for doing a great job. It was a great team effort. It was just a pity that we weren't quite in the right place at the right time at the end, but that is the way it goes."

-AGR-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Tony Kanaan , Bryan Herta , Dan Wheldon , Roger Yasukawa , Jim Beam , Sam Hornis