IRL: Nashville: AGR/Wheldon race report

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (July 19, 2003) -- Rookie Dan Wheldon captured his first career top-five in the Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone tonight at Nashville Superspeedway. Wheldon, from Emberton, England, started eighth and ran as...

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (July 19, 2003) -- Rookie Dan Wheldon captured his first career top-five in the Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone tonight at Nashville Superspeedway. Wheldon, from Emberton, England, started eighth and ran as high as third late in the race before finishing fourth in the Firestone Indy 200.

Wheldon pitted twice by lap 61 to try a different strategy than most of the field and dropped back to 14th in the running order. However, yellow flags flew at the right time for the Klein Tools/Jim Beam crew and Wheldon was running sixth when he pitted for the final time on lap 114. As he saved fuel to run the final 86 laps of the race, he steadily moved up in the running order, running third for 46 of the final 50 laps. Helio Castroneves got by Wheldon for third on the final restart of the race on lap 197.

Indianapolis 500 champion Gil de Ferran won his second race of the year at Nashville and moved to second in the Indy Racing League IndyCarTM Series points standings -- just 14 points behind Wheldon's teammate Tony Kanaan. Scott Dixon was second and is now third in points, just one marker behind de Ferran. Bryan Herta finished 12th.

The IndyCar Series now heads to Michigan International Speedway for the Firestone Indy 400. It is the 35th year of racing at the two-mile oval outside of Detroit and ABC will broadcast the race live on July27th.

Dan Wheldon #26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone:

"Tony Cotman did an absolutely excellent job tonight and a lot of the credit has to go to him. The Klein Tools/Jim Beam car was very good once we got the momentum up. The car setup was brilliant; we were able to run flat-out pretty much all night. I think we had a little bit too much downforce and that made it difficult for us to overtake."

Tony Cotman, Team Manager, Klein Tools/Jim Beam:

"We're really happy, but at the same time a little disappointed for Dan. He drove a great race and things were going our way and he deserved to be on the podium tonight. Early in the race we were in deep trouble and it was really hard to pass and I really happy with the job everybody did tonight to get us in the top-five."

-AGR-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , Dan Wheldon , Jim Beam