Chat with Dan Wheldon
Wheldon owns 16 career IndyCar wins.
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, IndyCar driver, and 2011 Indy 500 champion, Dan Wheldon stops by to chat about his chance to win $5 million at next month's Izod IndyCar World Championships at Las Vegas.
After winning his second Indy 500, Wheldon has not been able to secure a ride for the rest of the IndyCar season and has been a TV commentator for part of the season. Wheldon will have a chance to win $2.5 million for himself and $2.5 million for a fan at the Oct. 16 season finale race at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He won the 2005 IndyCar points championship.
Send your questions now and join Wheldon Friday at 4:30 p.m. ET!
Buzzmaster (11:56 AM)
Dan Wheldon will be here at 4:30 p.m. ET on Friday to take your questions!
Buzzmaster (4:28 PM)
Dan is here!
What are you looking forward most to about the Vegas Challenge?
Dan Wheldon (4:30 PM)
Well, actually there are two things. For me, I'm really excited about just getting back into a race car in a competitive environment. With Indy going as well as it did, it makes you hungry to get back into a racing situation. But with the amount of time that's gone on, it makes you incredibly motivated. But also, I was just talking to my wife about this, it would be great to be able to win this race and see the fan in Victory Lane too. That would be something very special. To be a part of a moment to enable someone to win $2.5 million would be gratifying.
What role does your weight training and working out play in your success as an indy car driver?
Dan Wheldon (4:32 PM)
You must have seen me in Power House Gym in Tampa...the position that I'm in now, it's important for me to stay fit, both cardio wise and strength wise. I haven't been in a racing environment. It's part of the discipline. I like to stay regimented. I'm a firm believer that what you put in, you get out. Discipline for me. But also when I get back into a race car, I can perform my best. There's nothing like being in the race car. There's nothing that keeps you race fit. When I do get the opportunity, I have to make sure I am in good shape. But I also might have more time than others to do that, because they're traveling to the races.
Jim (Norcross, GA)
Dan - If you win Vegas will you combine your prize money from Indy and Vegas and form your own team? No need to worry about a ride for 2012 then (though you don't have to worry about a ride for next year). Congrats on Indy and on getting out of the announcer booth and back on to the track!
Dan Wheldon (4:34 PM)
You know what, it's one of those things that I don't like to count my chickens before they're hatched, so to speak. I think that would be great. One of the things I've learned over the years of doing IndyCar is what these team owners do. It's not just having the funding to run a car over one year. When you employ mechanics, engineers, truck drivers, you wouldn't feel right about hiring them for one year and letting them go. At least I wouldn't. If there were a sponsor that's around that would like to run a team for multiple years, I would like to do it. And that prize money, I'm not sure when everything and the costs that would run a team for half a year.
J Tyler (Utica, New York)
What was going through your head when you saw hildebrand hit the wall? Did you feel bad for him?
Dan Wheldon (4:36 PM)
I will say, I've been asked that question a lot. It's a boring answer, but it's the truth. I was focused on getting to that finished line as quick as possible, because I believed there was a chance he would run out of fuel. Any opportunity that I could get to make the car go faster, I took. I got a great big draft on Turn 2, which helped my speed on that lap. I wasn't able to pass in Turn 3, only in Turn 4. When he crashed, I wasn't fully clear of Anna. When I saw him hit the wall, I had to make sure that he didn't come back and hit me and avoid the debris. It wasn't on anything in particular, just getting to the line.
Hey Dan! Why did you say that Indycar has more depth in talent than NASCAR? Last i checked this year there has been 15 different winners in the Sprint Cup series than there has been in Indycar.
Dan Wheldon (4:38 PM)
Honestly, I do have an immense amount of respect for all different drivers in all of the different disciplines. NASCAR with Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, there are some extremely talented people out there. Maybe my remarks were taken a little out of context, but I think that the depth of talent in IndyCar is extremely high. I'm not saying it's low in NASCAR, because it isn't. I'm a big advocate of the IndyCar Series and it's extremely competitive right now.
Andrew (Kettering Ohio)
Hi Dan, would you rather have had a full season, maybe 2 wins and top 5 in points or your 1 race with a win in the 500? Good luck in 2012 and in Vegas!
Dan Wheldon (4:40 PM)
I can answer that very quickly. When you look back at it, I would much rather have the victory in the 500. But if I was greedy, I would rather have everything, with a full season. Having the time that I've had, where I haven't competed in all of the races, there are certainly people in a lot worse situation in life than my situation right now. I feel, to some degree, that it's a blessing that I've been able to take some time off with my family. Less than 6 months ago, we had a second baby. It's really made me value how much I love just driving IndyCar. I'd have to say that this year, aside from winning Indy, it truly has been a nice blessing to learn how much I appreciate driving IndyCars.
What are your plans for next season? Do you have a ride lined up yet?
Dan Wheldon (4:41 PM)
We're working on it with my management. Things are moving in the right direction. The one thing that I learned from this year and the offseason last year is you can never count on anything until you have a signed deal. I don't have anything yet, but we're moving in the right direction. I have to say, doing some of the commentary on Vs. which I enjoy has put me in a good position for next year. I'm excited.
What the best aspect about being an IndyCar driver?
Dan Wheldon (4:43 PM)
Competing in the Indy 500, without a shadow of a doubt. It's unbelievable, the whole month. And not just driving the race car. Driving the race, there is nothing like it. But it's the history involved, the tradition, the parade. There's nothing like qualifying there. Everything about that month gives value to being a driver. It's phenomenal. The fans that we have there. Rain or shine. Cold or hot, they're always there throughout the month. It's just an amazing event.
Will you get any more push to passes for the Vegas race since your starting at the back? But really, what is your strategy going to be for passing 30 something cars?
Dan Wheldon (4:45 PM)
I think it's fantastic that there are that many cars starting at Vegas. It will be an exciting race. There is a championship at stake. To respect what's going on in the championship. But for me, there is no more push to passes for me. I wouldn't want it that way. I'm just going to have to be patient and work on having a good car in traffic in the practice sessions I have. That's one of the advantages I have in starting at the back. And wait to make my move. As good as people as Dario, Will, Scott, Tony, you don't want to give them too long, because they'll make a move to the front of the field. We'll have to figure it out as the race plays out. It won't be easy. There are a lot of great drivers in the series, but I'm up for the challenge.
Which Tampa sports team is your favorite?
Dan Wheldon (4:47 PM)
That's a good one. I think the Lightning. I've always enjoyed ice hockey. My knowledge of it is not the greatest. It was always good to go watch the games in England. When some of the American players came over, they would whoop up on everybody. I would say the Lightning. And quite frankly, I don't know many of the Bucs. From my functions over the years in Indy, I know a lot of the Colts. I'm partial to living in the Tampa area, I hope that all of them do well. It's great for the community. There are a lot of people that rally behind their teams. Hopefully the Bucs do well, but I will say that I've met Vinny Lecavalier and he seems like a nice guy.
Dan Wheldon (4:49 PM)
I want to thank all of the fans. It's been an odd year, but very enjoyable nontheless. I've probably been busier this year than the rest. I've been able to achieve things I wouldn't have been otherwise. All of the fans on Twitter or I've met in person have been phenomenal. I look forward to coming back for a full season in 2012. I hope the NASCAR fans didn't take my comments to heart. It wasn't meant as disrespect. It came from my passion for the IndyCar Series and the respect I have for the drivers in the field. I'm looking forward to Vegas. Hopefully I can win a fan $2.5 million. I hope I can do that.