The team made the announcement Saturday morning during the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg at Dan Wheldon Way, the downtown memorial in the city where Wheldon lived and was raising his family when he was killed in the 2011 season finale at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Wheldon won the Indy 500 with Andretti in 2005, and he had signed to return to the team on the morning of his death.
“Dan was family to us, and we had a lot of on-track success together,” Andretti Autosport CEO Michael Andretti said in a release. “We see a lot of Dan in both Sebastian and Oliver and are very proud to officially welcome them into our racing family.
“No one will ever be able to replace Dan in their lives, but we’re happy to offer a network for mentorship to help the boys grow their careers. Karting is the first step, but we have hopes of helping foster promising Road to Indy, and eventually even INDYCAR opportunities.”
Sebastian and Oliver Wheldon both have been winners in karting, and the brothers will race with the Andretti shield in three national level karting series: Rok Cup USA, Super Karts USA and United States Pro Kart Series while competing with JC Karting.
“I’m really excited to be a junior driver for Michael Andretti and follow in my dad’s footsteps. I hope Oliver and I can both win the Indy 500 too,” Sebastian, 12, said.
“It would be so cool to race for Andretti Autosport one day. I think we will get to win a lot of races, just like my dad,” Oliver, 10, said.
Michael Andretti and his Indianapolis-based team, which has cultivated dozens of drivers in the Road to Indy ladder series, will help coach the Wheldons.
“I am so grateful to Michael for taking Sebastian and Oliver under his wing,” mother Susie Wheldon said in a release. “The junior ranks of racing are so difficult to navigate and to have the support of Andretti Autosport’s engineering resources will, I’m sure, make all the difference.
“I am reminded of Dan every time the boys pull on their helmets as they have the same determination and winning attitude. They often show some of Dan’s other traits too. Good luck, Michael – #DoubleTrouble!”
Motocross 2023: Results and points after SuperMotocross Round 18 at Hangtown
Lawrence led all 16 laps of both races after taking the holeshot in the second moto and grabbing the lead from Dylan Ferrandis in Turn 2 of Moto 1. Lawrence claimed a four-second lead in Moto 1 and five seconds in Moto 2, but as dominant as it seems on paper, there were some exciting moments during the weekend. In the second race, Lawrence wanted to build an advantage that would allow him to maintain his pace and he nearly high-sided a couple of times in heavy ruts.
In his second race back from a concussion, Ferrandis finished in the runner-up spot with a second in Moto 1 and a third in Moto 2. While his finish of second overall goes into the record books, Pro Motocross points are rewarded for each individual race and that meant Ferrandis lost eight points in championship battle to Lawrence. With Sexton failing to mount up for the race, Ferrandis advanced to second in the standings with an 18-point gap to Lawrence. Equally important, Ferrandis gained ground in the SuperMotocross World Championship (WSX) points and now has a gap of 44 over 21st-place Justin Starling.
Cooper Webb is also in his second round since returning from a Supercross injury suffered in Nashville at the end of their season. Claiming results of fourth and second in the two races, Webb earned 40 SuperMotocross points at Hangtown and closed in on Sexton in the WSX battle. Sexton entered Hangtown with a large enough lead that he could not be overtaken, but he is now only 38 points up and could face a difficult decision next week at Thunder Valley in Lakewood, Colorado if he wants to hold onto his lead.
Aaron Plessinger had an adventurous weekend in which he seemed to close on Lawrence in his second race before crashing and dropping to fourth. Coupled with a fifth-place finish in Moto 1, he earned 35 points and was credited with fourth overall.
Cashing in on confidence he gained in the final rounds of the Supercross season, Adam Cianciarulo earned his first top-five of the Pro Motocross championship after narrowly missing out last week with a sixth. He earned the distinction with consistent results of fifth in Moto 1 and fourth in Moto 2.
The Lawrence brothers made history last week as the first siblings to win in two Pro Motocross divisions on the same day. Fans should get accustomed to seeing this happen with some regularity as Hunter Lawrence posted identical results in Hangtown to those he had at Fox Raceway in the season opener.
In both races, Lawrence got off to a slow start in Moto 1 and had to claw his way back to the podium. He dominated Moto 2 in both rounds to earn the overall victories.
Justin Cooper did not allow Lawrence to gain much of an advantage in the Motocross points’ standings, however. Finishing second in both motos, the earned only one point less than Lawrence. His modest showing in Round 1 of the outdoor season has him 12 points out of first in the championship standings.
Haiden Deegan scored his first moto win in just his fourth start in the series. In the first race of the day, he had to withstand constant pressure from Cooper, but when his teammate closed in on him, Deegan reached down and found a little more speed. Now that he’s won one of these races, he has his sight set on challenging Lawrence for the title. Deegan is second in the Pro Motocross championship standings with a 10-point deficit to the leader.
RJ Hampshire rounded out the top five with a pair of fifth-place results and 32 points for the round. Even though the deficit is a whopping 61 points, Hampshire climbed to second in the SuperMotocross championship standings now that Jett Lawrence has moved to the big bikes.
Jalek Swoll struggled last week and finished 21st overall at Fox Raceway. This week, he finished on the cusp of 10th in both races with a ninth in Moto 1 and 11th in Moto 2. In the SuperMotocross standings, he has a lot of ground to make up. He currently sits 49th on the chart with a 70-point gap to Chance Hymas, who is on the bubble to earn a guaranteed position in the SMX Mains for the three playoff races that will be held on September.