IRL: Nashville: AGR/Wheldon preview

Wheldon ready for Nashville INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (July 15, 2003) -- Klein Tools/Jim Beam driver Dan Wheldon is plenty confident heading into the Firestone Indy 200 at Nashville Superspeedway and with good reason. The Indy Racing League (IRL) ...

Wheldon ready for Nashville

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (July 15, 2003) -- Klein Tools/Jim Beam driver Dan Wheldon is plenty confident heading into the Firestone Indy 200 at Nashville Superspeedway and with good reason. The Indy Racing League (IRL) IndyCarTM Series rookie is coming off an open test at the 1.33-mile oval where he had the fifth fastest car on the track.

The track time helped to familiarize the young driver to the concrete surface at Nashville. This track is the only one on the series schedule that isn't asphalt, which increases the need for experience on the track.

"It's good just to test at Nashville," said the 24-year-old Wheldon. "I hadn't been around that place before and it's definitely different. It's all concrete, not like your typical track. We worked on both qualifying simulations and race simulations. You've got to establish a good baseline because it's only a two-day event."

The test was even more important for Wheldon as the Firestone Indy 200 race weekend includes only one day of practice before the race.

The test also gave Andretti Green Racing a chance to collect data from all three of its cars and share the information among all of its drivers. Wheldon was joined at the IRL open test last week by his teammates Tony Kanaan and Bryan Herta. Kanaan, the IndyCar Series points leader, paced the test followed closely by the series' most recent race winner Herta, who was third.

"I wouldn't call this three separate teams; we're one unit," said Wheldon. "The good thing about having three cars is that you can have three different setups on each car, and if one seems to be working better than another you can go down that route. You can try stuff, and if Tony's quick, we can always revert back to his baseline. It works all three ways, really. It's good because you can build up a bunch of data that can be used during the race weekend."

Team manager Tony Cotman agrees with Wheldon and believes the Klein Tools/Jim Beam crew will benefit from the data acquired by their Andretti Green teammates.

"Nashville has a difficult track surface," said Cotman. "Since it is concrete the car reacts differently than it does on asphalt. We're still struggling a little over a couple of the bumps on the track, but our teammates seem to be better. Our car wasn't great at the test so we'll look at all the data and start the race weekend with a different setup than where we finished the test. It is going to be a competitive race and our goal is to finish in the top- five."

Qualifying for the Firestone Indy 200 will take place on Friday at 4:45 p.m. (EDT). The race is set for Saturday night at 8 p.m. (EDT) and will be broadcast live on ESPN2.

- AGR -

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony Kanaan , Bryan Herta , Dan Wheldon , Jim Beam