IRL: Indy Racing League Notebook 2004-03-02

Indy Racing League Notebook Englishman Wheldon is in it for The Long Haul INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, March 2, 2004 -- Dan Wheldon matched his career best with a third-place finish Sunday in the Toyota Indy 300. If not for a stalled engine, the...

Indy Racing League Notebook
Englishman Wheldon is in it for The Long Haul

INDIANAPOLIS, Tuesday, March 2, 2004 -- Dan Wheldon matched his career best with a third-place finish Sunday in the Toyota Indy 300. If not for a stalled engine, the result might have been better.

The reigning Bombardier Rookie of the Year fell to the rear of the field after his engine stalled during a pit stop on Lap 131. When back up to speed, he moved to sixth place by Lap 157. He assumed the lead when Darren Manning made his final pit stop on Lap 183.

Wheldon's lead was short-lived as Marlboro Team Penske drivers Sam Hornish Jr. and Helio Castroneves chased him down on Lap 188. Hornish went on to the victory.

"I think maybe in hindsight, with the amount of downforce that I went for, it meant that I wasn't quite running as fast as the Penskes on my own in clean air," Wheldon said March 2 on the weekly IRL teleconference. "I managed to, I think, have about 10, 15, maybe even 20 car lengths with about 15 (laps) to go. I could just see them. They were working very well together.

"Actually, when they overtook me, it was right behind my teammate, Bryan Herta. I was running pretty close to him going into Turn 3. The two Penskes just kind of went on the side of me.

"It's early on in the season. It was more sensible to just try and bring the thing home on the podium rather than risking anything else. That was our intention going into the weekend."

Wheldon, who started 14th in the No. 26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone, has finished in the Top 10 in seven consecutive IndyCar Series races.

"We want to score strongly in these first three races," he said. "Maybe we can risk a little bit more at the Indy 500. That's obviously where we're very keen on winning. I think all in all, a good result. I think all four of our (Andretti Green Racing) cars were very quick. We're looking forward to Phoenix now, which is going to be another tough event."

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SunTrust returns as sponsor of Richmond race: SunTrust will return as title sponsor of the IndyCar Series' visit to Richmond International Raceway.

"Each year, the IRL IndyCar Series and the SunTrust Indy Challenge continue to grow," said Doug Fritz, president of Richmond International Raceway. "For the fourth consecutive year, we are proud to have SunTrust sponsor the race and we look forward to another exciting, first class event."

SunTrust has served as sponsor of the June night race since its inception in 2001. The race is the only IndyCar Series event held on a track that is less than 1-mile in length. The fourth SunTrust Indy Challenge will be held June 26.

"SunTrust Mid-Atlantic is committed to supporting the communities and the public we serve through the sponsorship of entertainment, educational and cultural events," said Michael Newbrand, Director of Marketing for SunTrust Mid-Atlantic. "We are pleased that we are able to partner with Richmond International Raceway to bring Indy racing to the Mid-Atlantic region with the SunTrust Indy Challenge. With our renewal for a fourth consecutive SunTrust Indy Challenge in 2004, SunTrust looks forward to providing our customers and all fans the best experience yet."

The 2004 IRL IndyCar Series season continues with the Copper World Indy 200 at 4 p.m. (EST) on March 21, at Phoenix International Raceway. The race will be broadcast live on ABC and the IMS Radio Network. The Menards Infiniti Pro Series races at the Phoenix 100 at 2:45 p.m. on March 20. The race will be broadcast on tape delay by ESPN2 on March 25.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Darren Manning , Helio Castroneves , Bryan Herta , Dan Wheldon , Jim Beam , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams Team Penske