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WHELDON CRUISES THROUGH IRL ROOKIE TEST

INDY RACING LEAGUE
Source — Indy Racing
Date Posted — August 30, 2002
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JOLIET, Illinois -- Dan Wheldon is set to make his Indy Racing League debut in the Delphi Indy 300 on Sept. 8 at Chicagoland Speedway after passing his IRL rookie test Aug. 29 on the 1.5-mile oval.

1999 U.S. F2000 champion Wheldon, from Emberton, England, will drive the No. 15 Pennzoil Panther Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone as a teammate to reigning IRL champion Sam Hornish Jr.

Wheldon, 24, breezed through the four-stage rookie test at Chicagoland. He turned many laps faster than 220 mph in the car he will drive in his IRL debut. The rookie test culminated two days of testing at Chicagoland for Wheldon, who has completed more than 1,200 miles of private IRL testing with Pennzoil Panther Racing since June, nearly all in Hornish's car.

"It's been a fantastic two days," Wheldon said. "I've learned a tremendous amount. I had the opportunity to run fast by myself and with Sam.

"We've practiced a lot of pit stops and restarts, and the entire Panther crew has been fantastic, very supportive. I really feel like I'm ready for the race and looking forward to coming back here next week.

"We were able to run 220.8 very comfortably, so it should be fun."

Wheldon comes to the IRL with impressive credentials. Besides the U.S. F2000 title he earned as a rookie in that series, he finished runner-up in the standings as a rookie in Toyota Atlantic in 2000 and Indy Lights in 2001. He was named Rookie of the Year in all three series.

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Article posted by RacingWest.com staff on August 30, 2002. http://www.racingwest.com

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