IRL: Indy 500: Dan Wheldon race comments

Rookie Dan Wheldon's first Indianapolis 500 ended in spectacular fashion yesterday, as he walked away froma 'highlight-reel' accident on lap 186 of the classic200-lap race that left him classified with a 19th place finish, having run as high...

Rookie Dan Wheldon's first Indianapolis 500 ended in spectacular fashion yesterday, as he walked away froma 'highlight-reel' accident on lap 186 of the classic200-lap race that left him classified with a 19th place finish, having run as high as second.

At the time of the accident, Wheldon had his No 26 Klein Tools / Jim Beam Dallara / Honda / Firestone running in sixth. After starting from the middle of the second row, the 24-year old Englishman -- from Emberton in Buckinghamshire -- had moved up to second place by lap 10. He continued to run near the front -- never running outside the top 15 atany point before his accident, despite pit stops. 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'sAndretti Green Racing (AGR) team-mate 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, classifying him 27th. Wheldon's other AGR team-mate, Robby Gordon, finished 22nd after a mechanical problem sidelined him.

The Andretti Green Racing team will now prepare for the fifth round of the IRL IndyCar TM Series schedule at Texas Motor Speedway.Qualifying is on Thursday 5 June and the race will be held under the lights on Saturday night, 7 June.

After his Indianapolis 500 debut, Dan Wheldon commented: '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 a great job with the strategy and the Klein Tools / Jim Beam crew did an excellentjob. We did have one set of tyres that was 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.'

Barry Green, Andretti Green Racing Consultant, commented: '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. Danwas 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.'

Michael Andretti said: 'Dan Wheldon is doing an awesome job. I'm proud of him. He is going to win a lot of races for us.'

-www.danwheldon.com

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Robby Gordon , Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Tony Kanaan , Dan Wheldon , Barry Green , Jim Beam