IRL: Homestead: Chip Ganassi Racing race report

Wheldon Posts Season Opening Win for Target Homestead, FL., Sunday, March 26, 2006--Dan Wheldon, in his first race for Target Chip Ganassi, took the hard fought checkered flag just fourteen thousands of a second ahead of Helio Castroneves...

Wheldon Posts Season Opening Win for Target

Homestead, FL., Sunday, March 26, 2006--Dan Wheldon, in his first race for Target Chip Ganassi, took the hard fought checkered flag just fourteen thousands of a second ahead of Helio Castroneves after an exciting side by side final 20 lap shootout at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Target teammate Scott Dixon, also involved in the five car battle to the finish, posted a fifth place showing and set the fastest lap of the race (215.264 mph) with five laps to go.

"Hopefully we put on a good race on a very sad day," said Wheldon who along with the Target Team and racing community was saddened by the news of the passing of driver Paul Dana following an on track incident during the morning warm-up.

"It was a win obviously under very difficult circumstances," Wheldon said. "I think certainly my thoughts and prayers and everybody here, their thoughts are with the Dana family and everybody at Rahal Letterman Racing. It's very difficult to race under circumstances like this. I think everybody in the community and the fans that came out to Homestead-Miami Speedway today should be commended for the effect that they have on the drivers to pull through under very difficult circumstances."

Wheldon and Castroneves were wheel to wheel for a number of laps, rubbing tires at least twice, before the driver of the no.10 Target car caught Castroneves coming out of turn 4 on the final lap for the ninth closest finish in IndyCar Series history.

"That's one of the things about the IndyCar Series; everybody respects each other an immense amount," said Wheldon, who led eight laps and claimed his tenth IndyCar Series win and his first for Target Team . "Whenever you run side by side with Helio, he gives you just enough room, and hopefully I do the same."

"Those last twenty laps were really something," said Dixon who battled his teammate, both Penske cars and Dario Franchitti in those final laps. "The car was really good, a little loose for the start but it really came around. You could see that for the restarts it was almost better to come from behind because you could carry more momentum but at the end there just wasn't enough space. Hornish bullied his way through and that set me back. I'm a little disappointed because third spot was within grasp but we'll take it."

The Target Team will remain in Florida for another week as they prepare for a road course test at Homestead-Miami on Tuesday then head to St. Petersburg for the first street course race of the 2006 IndyCar Series.

-cgr-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Dan Wheldon , Paul Dana , Chip Ganassi
Teams Chip Ganassi Racing