WHELDON'S FIRST "500" ENDS WITH FRIGHTENIHNG CRASH INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (May 25, 2003) -- Rookie Dan Wheldon's first Indianapolis 500 ended in spectacular fashion Sunday, as he walked away from a "highlight-reel" single-car accident on lap...
WHELDON'S FIRST "500" ENDS WITH FRIGHTENIHNG CRASH
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (May 25, 2003) -- Rookie Dan Wheldon's first Indianapolis 500 ended in spectacular fashion Sunday, as he walked away from a "highlight-reel" single-car accident on lap 186 that left him with a 19th place finish. At the time of the accident, Wheldon had the #26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone running in sixth. After starting from the middle second row, the 24-year old moved up to second place by lap 10. He continued to run near the front -- never running outside of the top 15 during any point before his accident. The accident occurred at the exit of Turn 3 when his car became loose. Wheldon was unable to save it, hit the outside wall and then became airborne, landing upside-down before sliding to a stop. He climbed from the car unscathed, but disappointed. Penske racing driver Gil de Ferran won his first Indianapolis 500 and the third in a row for the team. Helio Castroneves was second and Wheldon's Andretti Green Racing teammate Tony Kanaan finished third. Michael Andretti finished his career earlier than expected when a mechanical problem forced him out of the race on lap 94, finishing 27th. Wheldon's other AGR teammate, Robby Gordon finished 22nd after a mechanical problem sidelined him. Kanaan now leads the IRL point standings with 137 points, Castroneves is second with 123 points and Scott Sharp is third with 116 points. The team will now prepare for the fifth round of the IRL IndyCar Series schedule at Texas Motor Speedway. Qualifying is on Thursday, June 5 and the race will be under the lights on Saturday night, June 7.
Dan Wheldon #26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone "The start was very good for us. The Klein Tools/Jim Beam car was doing exactly what we wanted it to do. Barry Green did great job with the strategy and the Klein Tools/Jim Beam crew did an excellent job. We did have one set of tires that were vibrating quite badly and that made the car push really bad. We were back in traffic and that made it difficult to pass. It was hard to overtake and what actually happened on the lap of the accident was I had a little bit too much understeer behind (Tora) Takagi and (Sam) Hornish got a run on me and I defended. I was low and I turned in a little too hard and it got loose on me and I didn't quite catch it. I think the accident looks more spectacular than it really is. All in all, I think it was a good race and it is just unfortunate that happened at the end."
Indianapolis 500 Finish 19th Start 5th Laps Led 0 Points 11
Barry Green, Andretti Green Racing Consultant "It is just too bad. Dan drove an excellent race and he was doing a great job in traffic. We lost the balance just a little bit near the end of the race and the car wasn't as good as it was early on. Dan was trying hard to make something happen out there. All in all it was a great month and it is just a shame it had to end this way. It's been a great month and the kid is very, very good."