IRL: Homestead: Dan Wheldon Friday report

HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Feb. 27, 2004) - Klein Tools/Jim Beam driver Dan Wheldon opened the 2004 Indy Racing League® IndyCar® Series season with a fourth-place showing on the first day of practice at Homestead-Miami Speedway with a lap at 216.336 miles...

HOMESTEAD, Fla. (Feb. 27, 2004) - Klein Tools/Jim Beam driver Dan Wheldon opened the 2004 Indy Racing League® IndyCar® Series season with a fourth-place showing on the first day of practice at Homestead-Miami Speedway with a lap at 216.336 miles per hour.

The 2003 IndyCar Series Rookie-of-the-Year put his Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone through the paces at the reconfigured 1.5-mile oval, completing 77 laps while concentrating on how the car will handle during the race.

Wheldon's Andretti Green Racing teammate Bryan Herta was seventh on the day with a best speed of 216.082 miles per hour. Tony Kanaan posted a quick speed of 215.472 miles per hour and Dario Franchitti turned a best lap at 214.702 miles per hour.

Qualifying will begin at 1:15 p.m. (EST) tomorrow with the start of the 2004 season coming at 2 p.m. (EST) on Sunday.

Dan Wheldon, Driver, #26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone

"This race is going to be difficult. The conditions are going to change a lot between now and the checkered flag so we need to make sure we have a good race car. The Klein Tools/Jim Beam team did a good job preparing the cars and we are just hoping the weekend keeps going the way it has started. I haven't had a chance to run in a big pack yet and that is why it is difficult to get excited about the handling of the car. We have a good idea of where we need to be for the race so I like where we are."

Tony Cotman, Team Manager, #26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone

"We worked a lot on our race set up today, but having said that I would like to qualify up at the front tomorrow. We struggled this morning with our race car so we really had to work hard this afternoon. We made up a little ground. We aren't quite there, but we are more comfortable than where we have been. It looks like passing is going to be difficult. The challenge is to have a car that handles well enough to stick on the high-side, because that is where you will be able to make passes."

-AGR-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Bryan Herta , Dan Wheldon , Jim Beam