Wheldon gets warm-up race for $5m finale

Dan Wheldon

Dan Wheldon

Reigning Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon will race at Kentucky this weekend as a precursor to his assault on next month’s $5million IndyCar season finale at Las Vegas.

Wheldon, who took his second Indianapolis 500 victory in May in a one-off drive with Bryan Herta Autosports, will take over Alex Tagliani’s ride at Sam Schmidt Motorsports for this weekend’s penultimate IndyCar Series race.

The former IndyCar Series champion’s Las Vegas entry will then be a joint effort between Schmidt and Herta.

“I can’t thank Alex enough for letting me drive his car in Kentucky and to work with the team in preparation for Las Vegas,” said Wheldon.

“I’m really excited about this opportunity and look forward to working with everyone at Sam’s team. They were a large part of our winning effort in May, and I’ll do my best to get back to victory lane.”

Wheldon is set to be the only ‘ring-in’ driver to compete at Las Vegas, following a re-jig of the race’s concept.

Now called the ‘$5 million Go Daddy IndyCar Challenge,’ Wheldon will start the 300 mile event from the back of the grid, and share the monetary prize with a randomly selected fan should he win the race.

IndyCar had hoped to attract up to five guest drivers to compete for the prize, with Red Bull NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne, former Champ Car champion Alex Zanardi and action sports star Travis Pastrana all short-listed to compete.

All three drivers will miss the race however, as Kahne and Zanardi’s interest hinged on driving with title contending teams Penske and Ganassi respectively, while Pastrana broke an ankle at the recent X-Games event.

Wheldon is in for a busy October, as the Briton will fly to Australia immediately following the Las Vegas race to compete alongside James Courtney in V8 Supercars’ Armor All Gold Coast 600.

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