Indianapolis, Ind. (November 26, 2002) -- Andretti Green Racing (AGR) announced today that Dan Wheldon has joined the team as a test driver for the organization's new Indy Racing League program.
Wheldon, from Emberton, England, made his racing debut in North America in 1999 and won Rookie of the Year titles in three championships in three consecutive years; United States Formula Ford 2000 (USFF2000) Championship (1999), Toyota Atlantic Championship (2000) and Indy Lights Championship (2001). He also won the series title in the USFF2000 and was runner-up in both the Atlantic and Indy Lights series. In 2002 Wheldon was the test driver for Panther Racing in the Indy Racing League and also teamed up with IRL champion Sam Hornish Jr. for two IRL championship events.
"I'm very pleased to welcome Dan to Andretti Green Racing," says AGR president, Kim Green. "Dan has demonstrated remarkable talent since he began racing in England in 1996 and in only a few short years has established his mark here in the United States.
"After evaluating our options for test drivers for this program, we felt that Dan possessed several attributes as a racer that fit our requirements. One critical factor in our decision was that he has accumulated a significant amount of seat time in an IRL car and we believe that as a new team in the series, his ability to give us feedback based on that experience, will be a significant asset for us in 2003. We're happy that he has agreed to join us."
Wheldon tested Honda's new IRL engine with Andretti Green Racing in early November and is currently testing for Honda again with Andretti Green Racing at Phoenix International Raceway.
"This is just great," says the 24-year old Wheldon. "I was extremely happy to receive the offer from Kim, Michael (Andretti) and Kevin (Savoree). I want to thank Honda for giving me the opportunity to participate in their testing program and to run with Andretti Green Racing. Joining an organization that has such a tremendous pedigree is a real thrill, and I'm really looking forward to working closely with the engineers at Andretti Green Racing and Honda in the coming season. It's a great opportunity for me at this stage of my career."
Plans are also underway to find additional sponsorship funding that will enable Wheldon to join Andretti Green Racing's three regular drivers in several IRL races in 2003.
"Funding is in place for the cars of Tony (Kanaan), Dario (Franchitti) and Michael (Andretti)," says Savoree, AGR vice president finance and COO. "Of course, that's been our primary focus over the last few months. Now we can start looking for additional sponsorship to run Dan in a select number of events."
"We are looking to see what we can find that will help get him in a seat for part of the season," says Andretti Green Chief Executive Officer, Michael Andretti. "There's no guarantee right now that we'll be able to do it, but we are doing the best we can to fund him. We'd like to see him have the chance to run with us. He's certainly got the talent to be a contender."
<pre> Daniel Wheldon profile
Birth Date June 22, 1978
Birth Place Emberton, England
Residence Indianapolis, IN
2001 Indy Lights Rookie of the Year
2000 Toyota Atlantic Rookie of the Year
1999 U.S. Formula Ford 2000 champion and Rookie of the Year, scoring six victories
2002 * Pennzoil Panther Racing teammate for two-time Indy Racing League champion Sam Hornish Jr. for final two Indy Racing League events of season
* Qualified seventh and finished 10th in his IRL debut at Chicago and then started from the back of the grid and finished 15th in Texas
* Served as test driver with Pennzoil Panther Racing before entering the final two events with team 2001 Finished second in the Indy Lights Championship with PacWest Racing
* Named Indy Lights 'Rookie of the Year'
* Winner of the Bosch Platinum Speedway award for driver with most points on oval races
*Two wins (Gateway and Road Atlanta) and 7 podium finishes
* Toyota Atlantic Championship runner-up with victories at Homestead and Laguna Seca.
* Became the first driver in Toyota Atlantic history to win his first race in his first ever attempt in the Championship
*Won 'Rookie of the Year' title
* Dominated the US FF2000 Championship in his first year racing in America with six victories and 11 podium finishes to claim the championship
*Won 'Rookie of the Year' title and 'Road to Indy' title
*Finished third overall driving for the works Van Diemen squad in the British Formula Ford Championship
*Earned four victories and a total of seven podium finishes
*Runner-Up in the Formula Ford World Finals at Brands Hatch
* Finished fourth overall in the British Formula Ford Championship claiming three victories and setting four fastest laps during the course of the season
* British Formula Vauxhall Junior Championship runner-up
*Dan's debut season in car racing. He claimed three victories and a total of seven podium finishes
Born and raised in England but is half Irish (father was born in Ireland) which is why his helmet carries the English flag and not the St. George's cross. Since 1995 has had a mural of Richard the Lionheart on his helmet which was placed there after his karting team owner and chief mechanic (Terry Fullerton and Mark Rose) said that he drove with a lot of heart. Trains at St. Vincent Sports Medicine Center in Indianapolis. Enjoys Playstation 2 competitions, loves Italian and Indian food and counts Shawshank Redemption and Boyz N the Hood as his favorite movies.