JANUARY 30, 2006
Wheldon wins Daytona
Dan Wheldon may not have got a Formula 1 drive this winter but the Englishman is adding to his list of successes all the time and has now won the Daytona 24 Hours to add to his successes in the Indy Racing League and his win in the Indianapolis 500. Driving for Chip Ganassi's GrandAm team, Wheldon shared victory in the classic sports car event with Scott Dixon and Casey Mears, the trio taking turns at the wheel of a Lexus-Riley.
One lap back in a strong second place was the Michael Shank Racing Lexus-Riley of ex-British F3 man Oswaldo Negri, Mark Patterson, Champ Car rookie of the Year AJ Allmendinger and former Jaguar F1 driver Justin Wilson. This was a remarkably strong showing for the small Ohio team in the face of the Target/Chip Ganassi powerhouse and the Porsche factory-backed Crawford-Porsche in P3. Importantly, the team now leads the Rolex season points standings as the Wheldon led Ganassi car was only due to run the Daytona race.
The race saw a series of different leaders but in the early hours it was the Crawford-Porsche of Lucas Luhr, Pat Long and Mike Rockenfeller which led from pole position. The car was so strong in fact that it was able to get back into the lead having made up a nine-lap deficit after problems early on. The trio then built up a three lap lead before the right rear axle failed and the team lost eight laps. Despite this the car ended up third after a last minute drama with another Porsche-engined car. With what seemed like the entire technical staff of Weissach in attendance the message was clear: Porsche is going to be a major force in sports car racing again.
Among the others which were in contention in the race was the car shared by Allan McNish, Danica Patrick, Jan Lammers and Rusty Wallace but this dropped back with overheating problems.
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