Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon will take over the reins in the #77 Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry usually reserved for the team’s frontline driver Alex Tagliani at this weekend’s penultimate championship round at Kentucky Speedway.
The deal is for the race to act as a warm-up ahead of Wheldon’s participation in the season-ending race as Las Vegas, where Wheldon will be one of five ‘guest drivers’ competing for a $5 million paycheque if he can win the race from the back of the field.
Wheldon’s entry will be a collaborative effort between SSM and Bryan Herta Autosport, which ran his race-winning Indy 500 entry.
And so to allow the Briton to better prepare for what would have been his first open-wheeler race since his last-lap victory at Indianpolis, Schmidt has asked Tagliani – who was the pole winner at the same race – to vacate his seat this weekend.
The announcement – while great news for Wheldon – is disappointing for Canadian Tagliani, who had hit a decent run of form after a fairly patchy mid-season, having claimed three top-ten finishes in the last five rounds.
[Original images via LAT]