IRL: Richmond: AGR, Wheldon race report

Klein Tools/Jim Beam Driver Dan Wheldon Wins at Richmond Richmond, Virginia (June 26, 2004) - Klein Tools/Jim Beam driver Dan Wheldon scored his second career Indy Racing League® IndyCar® Series win tonight, making a fuel mileage gamble...

Klein Tools/Jim Beam Driver Dan Wheldon Wins at Richmond

Richmond, Virginia (June 26, 2004) - Klein Tools/Jim Beam driver Dan Wheldon scored his second career Indy Racing League® IndyCar® Series win tonight, making a fuel mileage gamble pay off in the SunTrust Indy Challenge at Richmond International Raceway.

The 2003 IndyCar Series Rookie-of-the-Year pitted for fuel and Firestone tires for the final time on lap 129 and was able to make good enough fuel mileage over the final 121 laps to earn a return visit to the winner's circle.

Wheldon struggled in qualifying Friday night, earning the 20th starting spot and then persevered after going down a lap to the leaders early in the event. Good pit strategy and skillful driving moved the Klein Tools/Jim Beam car up through the field and into the lead on lap 193.  Wheldon, who notched his first win April 17 at Twin Ring Motegi, then led the remaining 57 laps, working his way through traffic and holding off strong charges from Vitor Meira to earn his second win of the season.

Meira finished second ahead of Helio Castroneves, who started from the pole. Wheldon's teammates, XM Satellite Radio driver Bryan Herta and Team 7-Eleven Tony Kanaan, finished fourth and fifth, respectively.  With the top-five finish, Kanaan maintains a 15-point lead over Wheldon in the championship standings.

The IndyCar Series now moves to Kansas Speedway for the Kansas Indy 300 on July 4.  The race will take the green flag at 12:45 p.m. (EDT) and airs live on ABC Sports with coverage beginning at 12:30 p.m. (EDT).

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

"It was an awesome job by this Klein Tools/Jim Beam team.  Our Firestones stuck for a long time and my Honda engine gave me a lot of power.  Knowing Tony Cotman (team manager), I knew we would be okay because I never doubt him.  We had been making good fuel mileage all day and my crew gave me great pit stops."

Tony Cotman, Team Manager, #26 Klein Tools/Jim Beam Dallara/Honda/Firestone

"I'm very proud of everyone on the Klein Tools/Jim Beam race team.  It was a tough weekend for everybody.  You wouldn't have picked us to win based on our starting spot, but that is a credit to everyone involved in the team."

-agr-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Tony Kanaan , Bryan Herta , Dan Wheldon , Jim Beam , Vitor Meira