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August 2020
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Posts Tagged ‘#98 William Rast/CURB Big Machine car.’

100th Anniversary Indianapolis 500: Wheldon takes advantage of Hildebrand crash to win race



INDIANAPOLIS – It’s hard to believe that IndyCar veteran Dan Wheldon does not have a regular ride for 2011.

After all, the 32-year-old native of England has driven for Chip Ganassi Racing, Andretti Green Racing and Panther Racing. He has 16 wins on the circuit and two Indy 500 victories.

But for the 2011 Indianapolis 500, Wheldon was hired by old friend and former teammate Bryan Herta to a one-race contract for Bryan Herta Autosport.

Dan Wheldon (file photo)

Driving the #98 William Rast/CURB Big Machine car in Sunday’s race, it seemed like Wheldon was destined for another second place finish. He had finished second at Indy in 2009 and 2010 driving for Panther Racing.

But something happened in the last lap of the race.

Wheldon, who started the race sixth, on the outside of Row 2, was behind the leader JR Hildebrand on Turn 4. He saw the rookie crash into the wall and took the lead position before the caution flag flew and crossed the finish line under yellow. Race officials took more than two hours to declare Wheldon the official winner.

Wheldon’s contract with Bryan Herta expired at midnight Sunday night and he had no word on whether he would be driving anymore in 2011.

One wonders why the IndyCar owners can’t find a ride for Wheldon.

Auto Racing is a strange sport. It runs on not only sponsorship money, but sometimes it’s a “what have you done for me lately” or second-place finishes aren’t enough. First-place finishes matter more. The best credentials don’t get drivers anywhere.

As for Wheldon, he’ll end up somewhere, but as a top-notch driver, he won’t come cheap!

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