Dan Wheldon, the 23-year old Englishman, scored a stunning victory in yesterday's tenth round of the 2001 Dayton Indy Lights Championship at Road Atlanta in Georgia, USA Rookie Wheldon, driving his Gemstar Communications Lola-Buick entered by ...
Dan Wheldon, the 23-year old Englishman, scored a stunning victory in yesterday's tenth round of the 2001 Dayton Indy Lights Championship at Road Atlanta in Georgia, USA
Rookie Wheldon, driving his Gemstar Communications Lola-Buick entered by PacWest Racing, passed current points leader Townsend Bell going into the final turn of the last lap to win a dramatic race. The victory was the second in succession for Dan Wheldon who had scored his maiden Indy Lights win at Gateway International Raceway on 26 August
After struggling with mechanical problems in the qualifying sessions, Wheldon started a distant sixth on the Road Atlanta grid as Bell (who made his Champ Car debut last month) took pole position
Dan Wheldon moved up the field during the race and then, when it began to rain, backmarker Cory Witherill crashed and caused a caution period which allowed Wheldon to close on the leaders. He then hounded Townsend Bell and his winning move came on the last lap as he shot to the inside of Bell under Road Atlanta's Michelin Bridge just before the fast downhill run to the finishing straight. With the chequered flag in sight, Wheldon completed the move and led Bell through the final right-hand turn to the finish line for a .256 second margin of victory. Dan Wheldon led only the final quarter mile of the race, but it was enough for a strong win! Afterwards, an elated Wheldon said: 'I knew I'd have to make it stick! I had a pretty good idea that Bell was going to push me to the outside in Turn 10, so I knew my only good shot would be out of Turn 11 -- and it worked! On any conditions like that it's twitchy and you have to keep the car down. It's a tough car to drive and I think when people make the transition to Champ Cars they do very well.'
Yesterday's success moves Dan Wheldon up to joint second place in the 2001 CART Dayton Indy Lights Championship and joint second in the race for the Rookie of the Year Award. With two races remaining, Wheldon now has 123 points, just 26 less than current series leader Townsend Bell.
The penultimate race of the Championship takes place at Laguna Seca at Monterey in California next Sunday, 14 October. Last year Dan Wheldon won the CART Toyota Atlantic Championship race there.