Target Chip Ganassi Racing driver Dan Wheldon, the 2005 Indianapolis 500 champion and the 2005 IndyCar Series champion, has been nominated in the “Best Driver” category for the 2006 ESPY Awards presented by ESPN. The nomination is Wheldon’s second consecutive in the category and comes on the heels of his record-breaking 2005 Indy Racing League season, in which he captured six victories in 17 races.

“I am excited to be nominated again for the Best Driver category at this year’s ESPY Awards,” said Wheldon. “Even though I didn’t manage to pick up the award last year, it was a great experience to be among so many talented athletes. The drivers nominated in my category are all exceptional competitors, and it is an honor to be recognized with them.”

Following his dominating 2005 IndyCar Series season, Wheldon joined Target Chip Ganassi Racing in 2006 and promptly kicked off the season with two wins for his new team. He joined Target teammate Scott Dixon and Nextel Cup driver Casey Mears to capture the Rolex 24 At Daytona, and then in his first IRL race of the year, he took the checkered flag at Homestead-Miami Speedway for the second consecutive season. Currently ranked fourth in the IndyCar Series standings, Wheldon has posted four Top-5 finishes and five Top-10 finishes in 2006. His 10 career victories in the Indy Racing League place him second on the all-time list behind Sam Hornish Jr. after only three full seasons.

Also up for the ESPY “Best Driver” award are: IRL driver Sam Hornish Jr., Nextel Cup drivers Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson and NHRA Top Fuel driver Melanie Troxel.

Fans can vote online at

The winners will be announced at the 2006 ESPY Awards in Los Angeles on Wednesday, July 12. ESPN will broadcast the 14th Annual ESPY Awards on Sunday, July 16. Coverage begins at 9 p.m. EDT.