“Steve and I are thrilled to have a driver of Dan’s caliber partner with us for the Indianapolis 500," said Herta, who himself made five starts at Indianapolis as a driver, including two as a teammate with Wheldon. “It goes without saying that Dan knows his way around the Speedway. He has achieved a tremendous amount of success there and all of us have high expectations going into the month of May. As a former teammate of Dan’s, I appreciate what he brings to the table with his professionalism, determination and attitude. I couldn’t be more excited. We have a strong and experienced team in place and our goal is to give Dan everything he needs to capture his second Indianapolis 500 win."
Wheldon, 32, hails originally from Emberton, England, but has been based – and winning races – in the United States since 1999. He now makes his home in St. Petersburg, Fla., where he and wife Susie celebrated the birth of their second son, Oliver (brother to 2-year-old Sebastian), on March 19.
Wheldon’s career thus far has been highlighted by “The Double" in 2005 when, as a teammate with Herta at Andretti Green Racing, he won both the Indianapolis 500 – becoming the first Englishman since Graham Hill in 1966 to hoist the coveted Borg-Warner Trophy – and the IZOD IndyCar Series championship. In fact, Wheldon’s record at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has been nothing short of remarkable as he has finished in the top four five times in the last seven races with back-to-back runner-up finishes in 2009 and 2010 with Panther Racing.
“I’m really excited to be joining Bryan Herta Autosport for the centennial running of the Indianapolis 500 and I’m excited to announce this news in my hometown of St. Pete," said Wheldon. “Bryan has been a friend – and a teammate – for a long time now and because of that I have the utmost confidence in him and his team to provide me with the tools to win my second Indy 500."
After achieving much success in karting and a promising start to his car racing career in Europe, Wheldon made his mark immediately upon crossing the Atlantic, winning the USF2000 National Championship in his rookie season. He continued the trend by winning Rookie of the Year honors in the 2000 Toyota Atlantic season and the 2001 Indy Lights Championship. He made his IZOD IndyCar Series debut in 2002 with Panther Racing before switching to AGR for a full-time ride in 2003 which culminated once again with top rookie honors.
Since then Wheldon has scored 15 victories, 42 podium finishes and 61 top-five results in a total of 131 IZOD IndyCar Series starts and has been a runner-up in the championship twice in addition to his 2005 title. He also found the time to add victory in the 2006 Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona sports car race.
“Going into the month of May, I think we stand in a very good position," added Wheldon. “At this point, I won’t be a full-time IndyCar participant this season, but I don’t think we will be at a disadvantage having not raced in the first four races of the season because they are not on ovals; they are running on road and street courses. We will have plenty of preparation time at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and paired with the fact that Honda always supply us with reliable engines, I think we’ll be able to hit the ground running. I’m really excited about this opportunity and can’t wait to get to Indy."
BHA will announce more details of Wheldon’s Indianapolis 500 program, including sponsors, in April.
03/25/11 Bryan Herta Autosport announced today that former Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon will drive for them in this year's Indy 500 with support from Sam Schmidt Motorsports. Herta and Wheldon were former teammates at Andretti Autosport in the era when the team dominated. More to follow…..