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Bryan Herta Autosport Ready for Las Vegas Challenge

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Dan Wheldon, Alex Tagliani, IZOD IndyCar World Championship

Bryan Herta Autosport Ready for Las Vegas Challenge

Andrew Herta
Bryan Herta Autosport
October 11, 2011

Dan Wheldon
Two-Car Bid in Season Finale for Indianapolis 500 Winners

Bryan Herta Autosport will make its third appearance in IZOD IndyCar Series competition this weekend in the season finale – the IZOD INDYCAR World Championships Presented by Honda at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The 2011 Indianapolis 500 winners, in partnership with Curb-Agajanian, will once again team with Sam Schmidt Motorsports as co-entrants on a dual program featuring two popular drivers on the INDYCAR circuit.

Canadian talent Alex Tagliani, who claimed the pole for this year’s Centennial Indianapolis 500, will pilot the #98 William Rast/Bowers & Wilkins at Magnolia entry. He will be joined by two-time Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon aboard the #77 Bowers & Wilkins at Magnolia/William Rast machine. Wheldon, who will be making his third start this year, will have another incentive to make it to Victory Lane at Las Vegas in addition to bragging rights – the $5 million Go Daddy INDYCAR Challenge.

“I am hoping it is a case of déjà vu this weekend,” said team co-owner Bryan Herta. “We are really excited to return with an almost carbon copy of our program at Indianapolis. That partnership with Sam [Schmidt] resulted in pole and race-winning cars and we have high expectations this weekend. There is great chemistry between the teams and also between Alex and Dan.

“We are also pleased to welcome back our partners William Rast and Curb/Big Machine Records and excited about our new alliance with Alex’s sponsor Bowers & Wilkins at Magnolia. And it is great to renew our association with Curb-Agajanian and Mike Curb, Cary Agajanian and Scott Borchetta. Las Vegas is shaping up to be a fantastic event with a record number of entries. I think the fans are in store for an impressive show.”

Las Vegas resident Tagliani, who has three top-five and six top-10 finishes this season as well as two poles, will be looking to end the season on a high note in his “hometown” race. Tagliani sat out the last round of competition at Kentucky in order to give Wheldon seat time to prepare for Las Vegas and the Go Daddy INDYCAR Challenge.

“I am happy for the chance to be associated again with Bryan Herta Autosport,” said Tagliani. “I enjoyed working with everyone on the team at Indy and with Dan. I am also very honored to drive and represent William Rast, who I have a personal association. I love the brand and on a recent trip, Bronte and I took away half the store with us! It is a really fun association to have alongside Bowers & Wilkins with Magnolia. I have had the privilege to race for them for two years now and I take great pride in bringing them to the series.

“Dan and I are both out to win in Vegas and, as I have said, Dan will be on his own when the green flag drops. When you play with nothing to lose, it makes things wild.”

Following his win at Indianapolis in May, Wheldon took to the track as a test driver for the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series car in conjunction with BHA. The 2005 series’ champion returned to competition two weeks ago with Sam Schmidt Motorsports finishing 14th in Kentucky after starting from the rear of the field – where he will also start in Las Vegas in the Go Daddy INDYCAR Challenge. Of Wheldon’s 16 wins, nine have been on 1.5-mile ovals. Should he make it to the front of the 34-car and take the checkered flag, he and one lucky fan will share the $5 million.

“Kentucky was a good experience that will definitely help us this weekend,” said Wheldon. “As I said when the Go Daddy INDYCAR Challenge was announced, it is great to be back with SSM and BHA and our partners from Indianapolis – William Rast, Curb/Big Machine Records and now Bowers & Wilkins at Magnolia.

“We know we have a fast car; Alex put this car on pole at both Indy and Texas. We don’t have an easy task ahead with the depth of talent in the field, but we know what SSM and BHA are capable of and we are going there to win. I think the series has done a tremendous job with this event and all the activities leading up to race day as has GoDaddy.com and Verizon with the Go Daddy INDYCAR Challenge. Hopefully, myself and one lucky fan will be sharing ideas on how to spend $2.5 million on Sunday.”

As with Indianapolis, the BHA and SSM teams will work together as one group this weekend. The #98 car for Tagliani is officially entered under BHA/Curb-Agajanian with SSM while Wheldon’s #77 car is SSM with BHA/Curb-Agajanian.

The first practice session for the IZOD INDYCAR World Championships Presented by Honda will take place on Thursday at 11:00 am PDT. The 200-lap race will be broadcast live on ABC this Sunday beginning at 12:00 pm PDT.

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