Dan Wheldon signs with PacWest Racing

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(Indianapolis, In) -- Dan Wheldon, the young Brit who exploded onto the Toyota Atlantic stage in 2000, officially signed a one year deal with PacWest Racing Group to pilot the ...

(Indianapolis, In) -- Dan Wheldon, the young Brit who exploded onto the Toyota Atlantic stage in 2000, officially signed a one year deal with PacWest Racing Group to pilot the #1 Invensys Power Systems PacWest Lights entry for 2001.

The 22 year-old, who is regarded by many as one of the most talented young drivers in the business today, will contest next years Dayton Indy Lights Championship after an impressive run in another major CART developmental series, the Toyota Atlantic's. Wheldon joins PacWest after a stellar 2000 campaign, which brought two wins, four pole positions, seven podiums, and the Rookie of the Year award in his first season of racing in the United States.

"I couldn't be more pleased to be joining an organization like PacWest," "said Wheldon. They have always been one of the most professional teams "in auto racing, and this is really an opportunity I couldn't pass up. "Last year I was able to watch Scott's (Dixon) success, and now I'll be "able to step into his car and try to defend PacWest's title. I would "like to thank PacWest and Paul "Ziggy" Harcus for their confidence in "me, and I can assure you I will not disappoint."

Like many before him, Wheldon started his racing career at the tender age of nine years old while running in the British Junior Cadet Karting Championships. He won the Cadet Kart Grand Prix that year, before winning the overall series championship in 1988, 1989 and 1990. Wheldon received a special award for winning three consecutive British Kart Championships - a record that still stands to date.

Wheldon graduated out of the cadet series after the 1990 season, but remained in Karting. He won the championship in the British Junior Kart championship series in 1993 before moving on to Formula 'A' Karting in 1994. Just one year later, Wheldon won the FIA Ayrton Senna Memorial World Cup championship and moved on to open wheel racing.

An impressive 2nd place finish in the British Formula Vauxhall Junior Championship in 1996 brought another opportunity to move up to the British Formula Ford Championships in 1997 and 1998 where Dan finished 4th and 3rd respectively.

In 1999, Wheldon competed in the US F2000 series where he drove his way to six victories, five pole's, and eleven podium appearances on his way to winning the Rookie of the Year award ad the overall series championship.

"I can't think of a finer choice to replace Scott Dixon than Dan Wheldon," said Harcus, the 2000 Dayton Indy Lights Top Team Player Award winner. "Dan has obviously shown his ability to drive a racecar competitively, and we're looking forward to having him in a PacWest car this season. His history is very impressive, and I have no doubt that he will contend this year, especially with the top-notch crew that we have at PacWest."

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Series INDYLIGHTS