Dan Wheldon wins Indy 500
Photo courtesy of Firestone Racing/Dennis Ashlock

DAN WHELDON’s win at the Centennial Indianapolis 500 race was a Cinderella story. His ride with BRYAN HERTA’s eponymous Autosport team in the No.98 William Rast-Curb/Big Engine Dallara Honda was a one-off deal. Wheldon said the contract expired at midnight. (And he doesn’t even have a glass slipper…but maybe he could get one at Disneyland, which is where he’s headed next with his family.)

Last year Wheldon drove for Panther Racing in the No.4 National Guard car, and was runnerup at the Indy 500. This year that ride belongs to Rookie J.R. HILDEBRAND of Sausalito CA, who nearly won the race until he hit the wall as he neared the checkered flag. Wheldon passed Hildebrand, who was slip-sliding away. Wheldon took the checkered flag under caution. J.R. finished second, only 2.1086 seconds behind Wheldon.

IndyCar Chief Steward, BRIAN BARNHART, said “There’s no requirement for cars not involved in an accident to stay behind those involved/disabled.”

Bryan Herta
Bryan Herta. Photo by Lynne Huntting

Wheldon, from England, is a two-time winner of the Indy 500, having won the race and the championship in 2005, while driving with Andretti Green Racing. His teammates then were Herta, DARIO FRANCHITTI, and TONY KANAAN, the Four Musketeers. They did then and still do have fun together, and had a laugh-fest dinner reunion earlier in the week.

Wheldon eating
Bites. Photo by Lynne Huntting
Wheldon was full of sound bites during his happy, light-hearted and some times irreverent post-race conference. At one point, when he was talking about his special relationship with Honda, on cue, T.E. McHALE of Honda PR, brought Wheldon a dish of food. Wheldon didn’t miss a beat, and started eating right then and there.

Other quips:
“I was going to drive it like I stole it.
“It is a Cinderella story taking on Penske and Ganassi.
“I have an excuse to wear (William Rast) jeans to the banquet tomorrow night.
“I’m just honored to be the winner of this centennial race