Story from www.indycar.com
FORT WORTH, Texas — Dan Wheldon watched the Firestone Twin 275s with considerable interest, particularly the No. 99 Creatherm entry for Sam Schmidt Motorsports driven by Wade Cunningham.
Cunningham, making his IZOD*IndyCar Series debut, was in*the car that propelled Wheldon to victory in the 100th anniversary Indianapolis 500 on May 29.
“To think that it’s on the racetrack at Texas Motor Speedway and not already in the (Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame) Museum is a little scary,” said Wheldon,*who was the driver analyst on the VERSUS broadcast. “Hopefully, once the car makes it through this weekend the guys will do what they need to do and get that in the Museum. It’s not about that it’s my car, it’s part of what makes that race so special.”
The chassis is special, too.*IR3007 was*the seventh*of the IZOD*IndyCar Series’ new chassis produced by Dallara Automobili in Italy and was delivered to Panther Racing*for two-time series champion Sam Hornish Jr. He won at Kentucky, and also drove that car at Homestead, Richmond, Twin Ring Motegi,*Nazareth*and both Texas races (the latter his last for Panther) on the way to finishing fifth in the championship.
Tomas Scheckter drove the car in the 2004 and ’05 seasons before it was purchased by Delphi Fernandez Racing in the Panther Racing auction. Roth Racing then purchased the chassis, and it was used sparingly through the 2008 season.
FAZZT Race Team, in starting its race team for 2010, purchased the chassis — among other items — from Roth Racing (it sat idle throughout 2009). It was the car used*by Bruno Junqueira to qualify at Indianapolis in 2010.
Sam Schmidt Motorsports purchased the car from FAZZT Race Team following the 2010 season (most of the FAZZT*personnel, including Indy 500 pole sitter Alex Tagliani,*transitioned to the Schmidt operation), and until mid-April*the chassis was the pit stop practice car.
Schmidt leased the car to Bryan Herta Autosport co-owners Bryan Herta and Steve Newey for their Indianapolis effort with Wheldon, and Cunningham — the 2005 Firestone Indy Lights champion — made his IZOD*IndyCar Series debut in it at Texas Motor Speedway.
Another fun fact:
Wheldon won the Indy 500 in 2005 with the Dallara chassis No. IR5007; he also drove it to race victories at Pikes Peak and Chicagoland Speedway on his way to the series championship that season with then-Andretti Green Racing.
Marco Andretti of now Andretti Autosport has driven that chassis in the Indianapolis 500 every year since 2006 (when he finished second to – of course – Hornish as a rookie).