IRL: AGR's Wheldon to be honored in St. Petersburg

WHELDON TO BE HONORED THURSDAY IN ST. PETERSBURG; WILL ALSO APPEAR ON ABC'S EXTREME MAKEOVER INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (April 12, 2005) - Dan Wheldon, driver of Andretti Green Racing's ...

WHELDON TO BE HONORED THURSDAY IN ST. PETERSBURG; WILL ALSO APPEAR ON ABC'S EXTREME MAKEOVER

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (April 12, 2005) - Dan Wheldon, driver of Andretti Green Racing's #26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone, will be given a "Key to the City" of St. Petersburg, Fla., and will also make an appearance on ABC's Extreme Makeover on Thursday, April 14.

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker will present a key to Wheldon, who led a "1-2-3-4" sweep by Andretti Green Racing at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, and to Barry Green, Michael Andretti, Kim Green and Kevin Savoree, who led Andretti Green Promotions' efforts at the event. The ceremony will take place Thursday at 2 p.m. (EDT) at City Hall in St. Petersburg. Mayor Baker will also retroactively declare April 3, 2005 as "Dan Wheldon Day" in St. Petersburg.

Wheldon, a St. Petersburg resident who lives less than five minutes from the site of the temporary street circuit, capped a near-perfect weekend for Andretti Green Racing by winning the Indy Racing League's first non-oval event on April 3. The win was Wheldon's second IndyCar Series victory in 2005, the fifth of his career and extended his lead in the IndyCar Series point standings to 24 over teammate Tony Kanaan.

"I'm still a little overwhelmed by this," said Wheldon. "I lived in St. Pete in 1999 and it has a special place in my heart because it was where I started my career off in America. Mayor (Rick) Baker is a big fan of the IndyCar Series and mine because I am a resident. So, for me to win the race for St. Pete, in St. Pete, with him watching and being such a key player in making the race as big as it was -- to receive the 'Key to the City' is a privilege and an honor. I'm kind of nervous for the Mayor. Who would ever give Dan Wheldon a key to their city?"

On Thursday evening, Wheldon will also appear on ABC's hit show, Extreme Makeover. Wheldon participated in two tapings for the show during the past four months - one in Cincinnati and one at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Extreme Makeover is scheduled to air at 9 p.m. (EDT).

"It's amazing what those people can do," said Wheldon. "I had a lot of fun with everyone associated with Extreme Makeover and was really amazed by the whole process that they put Nate through. I think it was a daunting and nerve-racking experience for him, but the one thing you can count on with Extreme Makeover is the doctors and surgeons who are doing the procedures are first class. I was very, very surprised how Nate looked after seeing him the first time."

The IndyCar Series season resumes Saturday, April 30 at Twin Ring Motegi in Motegi, Japan, where Wheldon is the defending champion. The Indy Japan 300 is set to go green at 12 a.m. (EDT) with tape-delayed broadcast coverage provided by ESPN beginning at 12 p.m. (EDT) Saturday, April 30. - AGR -

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony Kanaan , Dan Wheldon , Kim Green , Barry Green , Jim Beam