Blowout For Wheldon

In a season marked by close racing and fantastic finishes, the IRL IndyCar Series was due for a blowout.

Fittingly, Dan Wheldon, the driver making a breakaway for the championship, scored a dominating victory Sunday in the Honda Indy 225 at Pikes Peak International Raceway.

Coming up from the 11th starting position, Wheldon took the lead on lap 164 in the No. 26 Jim Beam/Klein Tools Honda Dallara when teammate and defending race winner Dario Franchitti pitted – and stalled. Wheldon then cruised through the final 61 circuits, winning by 12.47 seconds over Sam Hornish Jr. in the No. 6 Marlboro Team Penske Toyota Dallara. Defending IndyCar Series champion Tony Kanaan took third for Andretti Green, the only other car on the lead lap.

Wheldon increased his lead in the IndyCar Series point standings, with Hornish 97 points in arrears with only four races remaining. Wheldon also tied Hornish's single season record with his fifth victory of the season.

Wheldon shattered the track record by averaging 153.790 in the race slowed by only one caution, when rookie Ryan Briscoe got into the marbles and scrubbed the wall on lap 80.

“Dan drove like a champion today,” car owner Michael Andretti said. “Congratulations to Honda for winning the championship – I’m glad we were able to do it for them. Now, we’ve just got to make sure he stays out of trouble the rest of the way.”

“Dan drove a great race,” Hornish agreed. “I didn’t have enough for him when it counted. He’s going to be tough to catch – he hasn’t seemed to have had any bad luck this year.”

Helio Castroneves started on the pole alongside Marlboro Team Penske partner Hornish and led the opening 19 laps. Hornish then led through his pit stop on lap 75, giving the lead to Franchitti – who had the luxury of pitting under caution.

When the green waved again, Franchitti shot to the lead, while Wheldon took second on a three-wide pass of Kanaan and Castroneves. Wheldon caught his teammate on lap 154 and led until his pit stop. Franchitti pitted with the lead, but his car refused to fire, costing him two laps as his crew had to return his car to his stall to engage the starter.

“I feel so bad for Dan,” Wheldon said. “He pushed me real hard.”

Castroneves finished fourth, followed by Vitor Meira, rookie Tomas Enge and Franchitti.

Danica Patrick started fifth and finished eight, two laps down.

There’s no break for the series, while visits Sonoma, California, this weekend for Sunday’s 14th race of the season.

Race Center

Auto Club 500

@ Auto Club Speedway
Saturday, October 19, 2013
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