Klein Tools/Jim Beam Driver Dan Wheldon Earns First Career Pole at Phoenix AVONDALE, Ariz. (March 20, 2004) - Klein Tools/Jim Beam driver Dan Wheldon earned his first career Indy Racing LeagueÂ® IndyCarÂ® Series pole position at the Copper...
Klein Tools/Jim Beam Driver Dan Wheldon Earns First Career Pole at Phoenix
AVONDALE, Ariz. (March 20, 2004) - Klein Tools/Jim Beam driver Dan Wheldon earned his first career Indy Racing League® IndyCar® Series pole position at the Copper World Indy 200 today at Phoenix International Raceway. The 25-year-old Brit lapped the flat one-mile oval at 174.799 miles per hour to become the first driver from England to win an IndyCar Series pole.
Wheldon, the 2003 IndyCar Series Rookie-of-Year, posted the third fastest time in the morning practice session and knew he would have the speed to contend for the pole. The Klein Tools/Jim Beam car was the second one out during the qualifying session and the early draw allowed Wheldon to take advantage of differing rubber compounds that were on the race track, which gave his car a little bit of understeer and allowed him to post the fastest time of the session.
Wheldon's Andretti Green Racing teammate, Team 7-Eleven driver Tony Kanaan, will start alongside him on the front row after posting the second fastest lap in qualifying at 174.291 miles per hour. It marks the second time that Andretti Green Racing has started 1-2; the other time was at Homestead in 2003. Archipelago Exchange (ArcaEx) driver Dario Franchitti will roll off the grid seventh and Bryan Herta will start ninth in the XM Satellite Radio Honda-powered Dallara.
Wheldon will lead the IndyCar Series field to the green flag for tomorrow's 200-mile race just after 4 p.m. (EST). The Copper World Indy 200 will air live on ABC Sports.
Dan Wheldon, Driver, #26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone
"It's fantastic for the Klein Tools/Jim Beam crew and the Andretti Green Racing team. TK (Tony Kanaan) has helped me a lot on the short oval stuff, as have (teammates) Dario (Franchitti) and Bryan (Herta). With three experienced teammates like that it really makes my job a little bit easier. Sometimes I get a little ahead of myself on setup and they set me right. All in all, it's a good job for the team. The track changed between practice and qualifying and the team is doing a good job adapting to the change. We have worked hard on our race setup so we should be just as good tomorrow."
Michael Andretti, Owner, #26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone
"I'm proud of the whole Klein Tools/Jim Beam crew and especially proud of Dan. He has done a great job with our team and I'm sure this is just the start of his success. This is what we have been striving for as a team. Our Honda engines are strong and Honda has been putting in a major effort to keep us at the front. Everyone on the team is happy with their race setup so we should be in good shape tomorrow."