IRL: Motegi: AGR Dan Wheldon race report

Wheldon finishes 7th in Bridgestone Indy Japan 300. MOTEGI, Japan (April 13, 2003) -- Dan Wheldon earned his best finish in the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series today at Twin Ring Motegi, coming home seventh in the Bridgestone Indy Japan 300.

Wheldon finishes 7th in Bridgestone Indy Japan 300.

MOTEGI, Japan (April 13, 2003) -- Dan Wheldon earned his best finish in the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series today at Twin Ring Motegi, coming home seventh in the Bridgestone Indy Japan 300. Wheldon drove the #27 Alpine/Archipelago/Motorola Dallara/Honda/Firestone to the second top-ten finish of his career, finishing one lap down to race winner Scott Sharp.

Wheldon, a native Brit, made his 2003 debut driving in place of Dario Franchitti, who was injured last week in an off-track incident. The 2003 IndyCar Series Rookie-of- the-Year contender will continue his season at Indianapolis behind the wheel of the #26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam entry. Wheldon stepped into the #27 car after it was learned Franchitti would be unable to compete this weekend.

Sharp earned his eighth IndyCar Series victory ahead of Kenny Brack. Felipe Giaffone finished third and Wheldon's teammate, Michael Andretti, finished fourth in the #7 Team 7-Eleven entry. Wheldon's other AGR teammate, Tony Kanaan, was injured in an accident on Lap 178, and was airlifted to Dokkyo University Hospital where X-rays showed a radial fracture of his left arm according to Dr. Geoffrey Billows of the IRL Medical Staff. X-rays on his right leg proved negative.

The IRL IndyCar Series season continues with Indianapolis 500 on Sunday, May 25th. Practice opens at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday, May 4 with the first day of qualifications on Saturday, May 10.

Dan Wheldon , Alpine/Archipelago/Motorola

"Today was a great experience for me. I think for my first race it didn't go too bad, I certainly need to relay to the engineers how to get a better race car because I was not expecting the track to change the way it did. I definitely learned a lot and enjoyed it. The Alpine/Archipelago/Motorola crew did a great job today. Now I have to concentrate on getting ready for the Indianapolis 500."

Kyle Moyer , Team Manager, Alpine/Archipelago/Motorola

"Today went pretty good. We had a couple of problems, we fought back from stalling in the pits and stuff like that. The car went really loose on us at the end in traffic, so from that point on, we were along for the ride. I think Dan did a really, really good job, especially for his first start. He kept on fighting and I think today was experience building and now its time to move on. I miss Dario not being here because this is a racetrack that he does very well on, so we are looking forward to moving on to Indy now."

-AGR-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Scott Sharp , Michael Andretti , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Kenny Brack , Dan Wheldon , Jim Beam