SPARTA, Ky. (Aug. 15, 2004) - Klein Tools/Jim Beam driver Dan Wheldon started the season with a run of top-three finishes that propelled him to an early lead in the Indy Racing LeagueÂ® IndyCarÂ® Series point standings and made him a championship...
SPARTA, Ky. (Aug. 15, 2004) - Klein Tools/Jim Beam driver Dan Wheldon started the season with a run of top-three finishes that propelled him to an early lead in the Indy Racing League® IndyCar® Series point standings and made him a championship contender. As the 2004 season heads into its home stretch, Wheldon appears to have found that groove again as he recorded his second-consecutive third-place finish today at Kentucky Speedway.
Wheldon, who already has two IndyCar Series victories to his credit this season, started 11th in the 22-car field Sunday, but immediately charged into the top five. The 26-year old Englishman turned up the heat on the rest of the leaders as the first half of the 300-mile event unfolded, driving from a top-five position to the top three. From there, Wheldon diced in and out of a lead pack that featured much tighter racing than the Kentucky event of 2003. During the final 35 laps of green-flag racing, Wheldon tried to unseat the two competitors in front of him, but eventually settled for his seventh top-three result of the season.
Honda driver Adrian Fernandez notched his first career IndyCar Series win on Sunday just ahead of Buddy Rice. Rookie Kosuke Matsuura finished fourth and was followed by Team 7-Eleven driver Tony Kanaan, who wound up fifth.
With the victory, Honda clinched its first-ever IRL Manufacturers' Championship after just 11 of the 16 races. Honda drivers have won 10-consecutive IndyCar Series events in 2004, including six by Andretti Green Racing drivers.
The IndyCar Series moves next to Pikes Peak International Raceway for Round 12 of the 2004 championship. Practice and qualifying are slated for next Saturday with the race to follow on Sunday afternoon. Live coverage will be provided by ABC Sports.
Dan Wheldon, #26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone:
"I didn't quite have enough for those two guys in front of me at the end. We were all kind of racing in a line, so that is just the way it turned out. But, it was a good result for the Klein Tools/Jim Beam crew. It's another podium. It would have been nice to win, but a third- place finish is a very good result for us today."
Tony Cotman, Team Manager, #26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone:
"We just didn't have enough for Fernandez and Rice, but we did a good job. We conserved fuel when we needed to. For a while it looked like it was going to be a fuel conservation race, which wasn't going to be too much fun. But, a late-race yellow kind of turned that around. That's all we had, but we can't complain about another third. We just need to keep doing what we're doing and start chipping away at the guys in front of us in the championship."