Dans Diary: Introduction to Dan Wheldon's 2001 CART Dayton Indy Lights season

I am very much looking forward to starting the new 2001 season. It has felt like years have gone by since I competed in my last race, which was in Houston, Texas. Last year, I finished second overall and received the Rookie of the Year award in...

I am very much looking forward to starting the new 2001 season. It has felt like years have gone by since I competed in my last race, which was in Houston, Texas. Last year, I finished second overall and received the Rookie of the Year award in the Toyota Atlantic Championship, driving for PPI Motorsports -- a team with which I enjoyed a lot of success and which I respect highly.

Since the end of the last season, I have moved to Indianapolis to be closer to my new team -- PacWest Racing. Also, in December, I got to spend a great deal of time in England, which was really nice, since I didn't get to go back home once last year. However, during these Winter months (which are very cold here in Indy) one thing in particular has kept me very, very busy: TRAINING! Now, for the first time in my career, I have a fitness company (PitFit Training) looking after me, to help me become fitter physically and stronger mentally. Training has made an unbelievable difference. I know it is a David Coulthard cliche but I am much, much stronger than I have ever been and, because of this, I am certain I will be a faster driver in the car.

This year I have moved up into the Dayton Indy Lights Series with the reigning Champions, PacWest Racing. I will be driving their No 1 Gemstar Communications/PacWest Lights car. Testing has gone very well so far, in terms of the goals my team and I have set for ourselves. We are yet to determine how quick we are, in comparison to the other competitors, since we have not tested with any of them on the same day, or even on the same track for that matter. Only time will tell!

The Lights car itself is certainly extremely enjoyable to drive, but different to the Atlantic car I drove last year. The first thing I noticed is how much heavier the Lights car is, which is more comparable to a Champ Car than the Atlantic car. Power-wise, the two (Lights and Atlantic) feel reasonably similar. The only other difference is that the Lights car pulls all the way through the rev range, whereas with the Atlantic car you have to gear accordingly to keep it within the ideal rev range.

For 2001, my goal is to win the CART Dayton Indy Lights Championship and progress into Champ Car for 2002. Coming from Europe, a lot of people expect me to use Champ Car to propel me into Formula One -- however, this is not the case with me. I really feel that CART is one of the most exciting and competitive championships in the world, both for the driver and spectator. I feel that the only way I would consider a move to F1 would be after I have accomplished absolutely every goal I had set for myself in Champ Car.

I leave for Mexico this Wednesday and I can't wait to see how we compare to the other teams. From what I understand, the track in Mexico is pretty tight and, in some respects, similar to Houston. I look forward to starting the season off with a bang, like I did in Homestead last year. Hopefully I can try to bring you all an 'inside view' of my year, by keeping you up to date with what happens before, during and after the races, throughout my season

Best Wishes, Dan

-www.danwheldon.com

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About this article
Series Indy Lights
Drivers David Coulthard , Dan Wheldon