IRL: Indy 500: Dan Wheldon rookie test notes

Dan Wheldon completes ROP at Indianapolis Motor Speedway Indianapolis, Ind. (April 21, 2003) -- Klein Tools/Jim Beam driver Dan Wheldon completed the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Rookie Orientation Program today, paving the way for his first...

Dan Wheldon completes ROP at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Indianapolis, Ind. (April 21, 2003) -- Klein Tools/Jim Beam driver Dan Wheldon completed the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Rookie Orientation Program today, paving the way for his first start in the Indianapolis 500 on May 25.

The 24-year-old Brit completed the four speed phases: completing 10 consecutive laps at 200-205 mph, 205-210 mph, 210-215 mph and anything above 215 mph. He also showed the consistent car control needed to pass the test.

"The Klein Tools/Jim Beam car has been fast," said Wheldon. "We just took our time getting up to speed. Tino Belli (Andretti Green technical director), who is going to be my engineer for the month of May, is keen on me peaking at the right time. I think they're just keeping me on an even keel right now, so come qualifying, we should be good. I'd say I'm in a good position with the Andretti Green Racing team. They've got great personnel and everyone is very strong at their positions.

Rookie tests have been administered at the Speedway since 1936. The Rookie Orientation Program is an opportunity for rookie drivers to get experience on the famous 2.5-mile oval before the veterans arrive for Opening Day on May 4. It also gives them a chance to learn different lines around the track without traffic.

"It is different, because Indy has four corners rather than the usual two," said Wheldon. "It's a real good place. When you look at a circuit map you think, 'Oh four corners, pretty similar.' But when you get out there, they are completely different. It just takes a little while to adapt to what each corner wants and here, since you're going so fast, there is just less margin for error. So, everything has to be right to be fast, and that's what we're working on."

Wheldon and the #26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam crew will continue testing at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Tuesday and Wednesday, April 22 and 23. The team will then head to Nashville Superspeedway for the IRL open test on April 25 before preparing the car for the first day of Indy practice on May 4.

-AGR-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Dan Wheldon , Jim Beam