Dan Wheldon won the Indy Racing League's Bombardier Rookie of the Year title in Sunday's Chevy 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, adding another newcomer's title to a haul that includes every series in which he has competed.

The 25-year old did not compete in the first two events this season, but still finished eleventh overall in points and claimed the rookie crown after a head-to-head in the finale with Roger Yasukawa. The Briton finished third in the Texas race, his best finish during a season in which he earned five top-five finishes, and secured the rookie title by eleven points.

"It's a real pleasure and honour to be rookie of the year in this series because, boy, I tell you, it's so competitive," Wheldon said, "It's the best championship in the world. It's so, so competitive. I think that shows you what a good series this is, and I'm looking to be part of it for a very long time."

Wheldon raced for the majority of the season in Andretti Green racing's Jim Beam/Klein Tools car, but also had spells as stand-in for Dario Franchitti and running in 7-Eleven colours alongside Tony Kanaan.

"We'd like to congratulate Dan on his rookie of the year win and are proud to be part of such a great team," said Jim Beam brand manager Adam Dettman, "Our partnership with Dan and Team AGR has been very rewarding, and we are proud to be associated with such a great competitor and spokesperson."

Wheldon has been fast since he first set foot on US soil, having opted to cross the Atlantic in order to further his career when budgets became hard to find in his native England. He moved to the US in 1999 and soon found himself behind the wheel of a Formula Ford, and winning his first rookie of the year title, along with the series championship.

In 2000, he moved to the Toyota Atlantic Series and won another rookie of the year title by finishing second in the series championship standings. He repeated those accomplishments in 2001 in the Indy Lights Series, and served as a test driver for Panther Racing's IRL team in 2002, driving the final two races of the season as Sam
Hornish Jr's team-mate.

 

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