Indy 500 champ will be in Texas, even without ride

May 31, 2011 - 4:59 PM
IndyCar Indy 500 Wheldon Auto Racing

IndyCar driver Dan Wheldon, of England, signals his second win of the Indianapolis 500 auto race during the traditional winners photo on the start/finish line at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Monday, May 30, 2011. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Dan Wheldon will be at the next IndyCar Series race in Texas. The Indianapolis 500 winner just doesn't know if he'll be sitting in a cockpit or a television booth.

Wheldon hopes to be driving in the dual races at Texas Motor Speedway on June 11, though his one-race contract with Bryan Herta Autosport expired hours after his improbable victory at Indianapolis.

"We're obviously trying to do more, and I don't think we've hurt our chances," Wheldon said Tuesday during a promotional stop in Texas. "For an unemployed guy, I think I did pretty good Sunday."

If unable to find a suitable ride with Herta or another team, Wheldon is set to work as an analyst on the Versus network broadcast of the race.

"Personally, I hope to not do it because I'll be in a race car," the 32-year-old Englishman said. "We'll just have to wait and see."

Still, Wheldon knew Indianapolis might be his only IndyCar race this season. The two-time Indy 500 champion has no ride lined up for Texas, Milwaukee or any of the other remaining races.

Herta had planned for Indy to be his team's only race this season, then build toward running the full schedule in 2012. It is still unclear how much the victory might accelerate the plan, if at all.

Wheldon said he believes Herta would be willing to run more races this year, including Texas, if proper funding could be secured and the car could be prepared to run competitively.

"But Bryan is not just going to do it to do it," Wheldon said. "He wants to do it right."

Since Wheldon is no longer under contract, the driver is free to pursue or consider offers from other teams. He said he did not know if his agent had gotten any such calls, but he wouldn't just get into another car for the sake of being in the race.

"I would absolutely love to continue with Bryan's team, and certainly that would be the intention. Bryan has gone above and beyond what he promised," he said. "It's not about just driving for any team that gives me an opportunity. It's about picking the right opportunity, and making sure it's competitive."

Wheldon, whose other Indy win came in 2005, got his second victory at the Brickyard when rookie driver JR Hildebrand crashed on the final turn while leading the race.

Texas will feature the first dual races in major open-wheel racing in 30 years, on the high-banked 1½-mile track that is one of the fastest in the series.

The Firestone Twin 275s will replace the single 550-kilometer (342 mile) event in Texas. Each race will pay half the points and half the bonus prizes. There will be an hour between races, when drivers will have a blind draw to determine their starting spot for the second race.

Wheldon participated in a game of "Call of Duty: Black Ops" over the Internet with U.S. Army Major David Wishart of Fort Worth and three of his soldiers stationed in Afghanistan after the Indy champion arrived at a downtown sports bar in a milk truck.

It came a day after he got a check for more than $2.5 million for his victory at Indy.

"Definitely my biggest unemployment check so far," he said. "I'm really proud of that one."