Pieces in place for Wheldon for Indy
Dan Wheldon heads into the grueling month of May with all the pieces for a successful run in the 91st Indianapolis 500. The latest piece was added April 29 in the Kansas Lottery Indy 300.
The Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver, who lost by the blink of an eye in 2005 to then-Andretti Green Racing teammate Tony Kanaan on the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway tri-oval, paced 177 of 200 laps and led Dario Franchitti across the finish line under caution.
Wheldon now in his career has won at each of the five racetracks on the front end of the IndyCar Series' 17-race schedule, including the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This season, he's won two of the three speedway events, and - save for a communication device problem at Twin Ring Motegi - could have a wider cushion in the points championship.
"As an IndyCar driver, you want to try and win at all the different venues you race," said Wheldon, who recorded his 13th career victory and took a 27-point lead in the championship standings over teammate Scott Dixon. "I came up a little short a couple of times here. It's nice to have this one in the books.
"Now we can start thinking about Indy. The Indianapolis 500, as everybody knows, is the be all and end all to me. That's the race that I'm desperate to win. I've had a taste of that milk before. It's an amazing thing. You think after winning it once, after you worked so hard to try and win that race, you'd be satisfied. But I think that taste of milk makes you even more determined to win again."
Motivation won't be an issue when Wheldon joins 20-plus other drivers on the daunting 2.5-mile oval May 8 for the first day of full-scale practice. His No. 10 Honda-powered Dallara was a contender for a second consecutive 500-Mile Race victory last May before a deflated tire took the air out of his bid.
"We've got the championship lead, which is nice," the '05 series champion said. "But I think more importantly we scored another win, which is what I like doing the best.
"In terms of creating momentum (at Indy), I think you can create your own momentum because the month is so long. Obviously, Sam (Hornish Jr. has) had a disappointing -- by his regards - start to the season. But I can guarantee you come race day at Indianapolis, he's going to be strong. You can create momentum.
"With what we've done so far this season, it puts everybody in a great mind-set going into the month."