Wheldon may quit IRL for NASCAR or Champ Car

UPDATE #3 This Indy Star article says that Wheldon is also talking to Champ Car team owners. Dan Wheldon is coy about his options, and it's unclear how many he has. He is expected to receive a good offer to remain in the Indy Racing League with Andretti Green Racing.

This week, the IRL's points leader said he has been contacted by a couple of Formula One teams regarding a ride in 2006. He declined to name them. Two weeks ago, Wheldon told a NASCAR reporter he would consider a Nextel Cup ride.

There also has been discussion about his management team contacting Champ Car teams.

What's the truth? The Brit smiles and evades the question. "I can't say, brother; you know that," he said Friday at Wisconsin State Fair Park, where the IRL will race Sunday.

AGR co-owner Kevin Savoree said Wheldon, 27, has a right to test his market value because "he's a free agent."

Jim McGee, general manager of PKV Racing in Champ Car, said Wheldon wants a two-year contract, something most IRL and Champ Car teams aren't willing to give at this time.

"I don't think the money's there for 2007 because people don't know what they're going to be doing," McGee said. "And I don't know how good of a road racer he is."

"We're in a stage where we're not talking (to others) about what's going on," Savoree said. "But nothing has changed for us; we want the same four guys next year."

AGR has defending IRL champion Tony Kanaan under contract for 2006. Dario Franchitti's career has mostly been a series of one-year contracts, and he figures to return to the Indianapolis-based team if Honda continues with its program. Bryan Herta likely will be the last piece to AGR's puzzle.

Savoree said Wheldon's primary sponsor (Jim Beam) is already under contract for 2006. [Editor's Note: Wheldon has a European background. He can road race. If Jim McGee has his doubts he should give him a test. In the end Wheldon will probably end up back at AGR. All these talks are so his management team can squeeze as much money out of AGR as possible.]

07/12/05 Indy 500 Champ Dan Wheldon told Claire B. Lang (CBL) of XM Satellite NASCAR Radio (regarding the possibility of making the move to NASCAR):
CBL: Have you talked to some stock car teams seriously:
Wheldon: "I have talked to some teams seriously, yes. I mean obviously my experience in this right now is zero. But there's certainly a lot of interest and there's certainly a lot of interest on my part so we'll just have to wait and see.
CBL: What would it take to make the move?
Wheldon: "I'd need to be obviously in a very very good team I think have a lot of testing and the ability to race some Busch races and stuff like that. I gotta consider everything, I'm a driver and you know you've got to look to the future and that's what I'm looking at. But, I haven't decided what I'm going to do as of yet."
CBL: Do you have a deadline when you have to decide?
Wheldon: "Yea I'm going to have to in the next three or four weeks for sure." XM Satellite NASCAR Radio

07/11/05 Dan Wheldon, this year's Indy 500 winner, was a guest at Chicago of Robby Gordon. Wheldon said he's looking at the NASCAR world for a possible career move, eventually. Winston Salem Journal [Editor's Note: Eventually means when all the engine manufacturer money dries up in the IRL after 2006]

07/07/05 Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon is considering a switch to NASCAR should the imminent withdrawal of Toyota and Chevrolet undermine the level of competition in the IRL, according to this week's Autosport Magazine.

Wheldon's manager, Julian Jakobi, has revealed that a move to a top NASCAR team is an option for Wheldon, although a move into Formula One is believed to be the most favored choice.

Wheldon revealed: "I'm evaluating a lot of options, and the good thing is that people want to speak to me. Jakobi gets approached by a lot of people, and right now he's keeping quiet because he wants me to focus on winning the championship.

"NASCAR is something that in America you have to look at because it is so big, although I think the IRL IndyCar Series could rival that. The biggest thing at the moment is to do what is right for me.

"Obviously the more competition we can get between chassis and engine manufacturers the better, but it's something I will bear in mind because I want to be racing where all the competition is at." [Editor's Note: Once all the huge manufacturer money leaves the IRL after 2005 (Chevy) and 2006 (Toyota and probably Honda) and engine suppliers begin to charge full price for engines and not subsidize teams or drivers, the IRL will lose a good number of teams and drivers, at which point Anton George will be sorry he did not merge with Champ Car when he had the chance.]

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