HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Feb. 28, 2004) - Klein Tools/Jim Beam driver Dan Wheldon will start the Indy Racing LeagueÂ® IndyCarÂ® Series season opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway from 14th on the grid tomorrow after turning a lap of 215.017 miles per ...
HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Feb. 28, 2004) - Klein Tools/Jim Beam driver Dan Wheldon will start the Indy Racing League® IndyCar® Series season opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway from 14th on the grid tomorrow after turning a lap of 215.017 miles per hour.
After posting the third quickest time in this morning's practice session, the 2003 IndyCar Series Rookie-of-Year Wheldon and the Klein Tools/Jim Beam crew were optimistic heading into the qualifying session. The weather conditions changed for the qualifying session, which caused the front-end of Wheldon's car to lose grip and in turn cost him speed. That small loss of speed meant a lot of positions in what is the second- closest starting field in IndyCar Series history. A little more the one-half second separates the pole winning time from the 19th qualifier.
Wheldon's Andretti Green Racing teammate Dario Franchitti will start fourth after posting a lap of 216.599 miles per hour, just better than Bryan Herta, who will start fifth, who lapped the 1.5-mile track at 216.545 miles per hour. Defending pole-sitter Tony Kanaan will start eighth with a lap at 215.976 miles per hour.
Wheldon and the rest of the field will take the green flag for tomorrow's 300-mile race just after 2 p.m. (EST). The Homestead event, which will air live on ESPN, is the first of the 16 scheduled for the 2004 IndyCar Series schedule.
Dan Wheldon, Driver, #26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone
"I'm not sure what was wrong with the car. It's unfortunate because we have a good race car and the Klein Tools/Jim Beam crew have been working hard. This just makes it more difficult. Our car has been strong throughout the preseason and during the practices this weekend, so this is disappointing. Our race setup was really good yesterday so I think we'll be fine."
Tony Cotman, Team Manager, #26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone
"It was an extremely disappointing qualifying effort. Fourteenth is obviously not where we wanted to start for the first event, but we'll see what we can do. We'll be on a slightly different strategy tomorrow, but I'm not too worried about it. I would have liked to start further up but we'll make the most of it."