Dan Wheldon, Britain’s American-based golden boy, can do no wrong: he has started the 2006 season, his first with Chip Ganassi Racing, by winning the Daytona 24 Hours and taking victory in the opening round of the IRL IndyCar Series.
Wheldon won the IRL title and the Indy 500 last year before jilting Andretti Green Racing for a move to the rival Ganassi squad. He teamed up with Scott Dixon and Casey Mears to win at Daytona in the team’s Riley-Lexus sports-racer before making the perfect start to the defence of his IRL crown in the team’s Dallara-Honda.
“It’s a fantastic team,” said Wheldon. “I’ve known Chip for a long time. The first two races I’ve been with him I’ve won, but I think I’m still in the honeymoon period!”
Wheldon beat Penske’s Hélio Castroneves by a mere 0.0147sec, although apparently this is only the ninth closest finish in the IRL’s 10year history! Another Briton, Dario Franchitti, was fourth.
The IRL weekend at Homestead was marred by the death, in a practice crash, of Paul Dana (see right). Dana struck the spun car of Ed Carpenter, who suffered concussion but no long-term injuries.