IRL: Watkins Glen: Dan Wheldon race/championship report

WHELDON CLINCHES INDYCAR SERIES CHAMPIONSHIP; FINISHES FIFTH IN KLEIN TOOLS/JIM BEAM CAR AT WATKINS GLEN WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (Sept. 25, 2005) - Dan Wheldon, driver of the ...

WHELDON CLINCHES INDYCAR SERIES CHAMPIONSHIP;

FINISHES FIFTH IN KLEIN TOOLS/JIM BEAM CAR AT WATKINS GLEN

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (Sept. 25, 2005) - Dan Wheldon, driver of the #26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Honda-powered Dallara, clinched the Indy Racing League® IndyCar® Series championship with a fifth-place finish at Sunday's running of the Watkins Glen Indy Grand Prix.

Wheldon became the first driver in the history of the IndyCar Series to win the Indianapolis 500 and the IndyCar Series championship in the same season.

Initially, Wheldon fought handling issues that were resolved during the first pit stop. Wheldon exited the pits in ninth place, but the other eight cars ahead of him did not pit. As the leaders began to pit on lap 20, Wheldon was leading the race within a few laps. After another green-flag pit stop near the end of the race, Wheldon found himself in ninth place and improved his position by four spots over the remaining 15 laps.

Wheldon has collected a record-breaking six wins in 2005, giving him nine career wins and tying him with Scott Sharp for the second-most victories in IndyCar Series history. Wheldon reached nine wins in his 47th career start while Sharp has nine wins in 113 starts.

Scott Dixon drove to his first victory in more than two seasons. AGR drivers Tony Kanaan and Dario Franchitti finished second and third, respectively, followed by Giorgio Pantano and Wheldon.

The final race on the 2005 IndyCar Series schedule takes place at California Speedway on Sunday, Oct. 16. ESPN will provide live coverage of the 400-mile event at 3:30 p.m. (EDT).

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

"This is fantastic. First of all, I want to credit my teammates. I've been in the IndyCar Series for a short period of time and they have helped me a great deal. The Klein Tools/Jim Beam team has been great for two years and our association with Honda has been tremendous. As a driver, you think winning the Indianapolis 500 and the championship in the same year is asking too much, but we pulled it off. It's been a fantastic season and we've still got one race left."

John Anderson, Team Manager, #26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone:

"It is a terrific day.  We had some handling issues with the car early, and we had a yellow come out at
the wrong time that cost us.  But, Dan loves the challenge of coming through the pack.  He did a great job to
come in fifth.  It is just a wonderful way to cap the season.  The four drivers get along so well and the
Klein Tools/Jim Beam team worked so hard.  No one deserves it more than these guys."

-agr-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Giorgio Pantano , Scott Sharp , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Dan Wheldon , John Anderson , Jim Beam