Dan Wheldon said winning with Indianapolis 500 with his long-time friend Bryan Herta's young team made his second victory in IndyCar's premier race particularly sweet.
Without a full-time drive for this season, Wheldon teamed up with Bryan Herta Autosport for Indianapolis, which would be only the second ever IndyCar race for the team co-owned by Herta and engineer Steve Newey.
The Wheldon/Herta combination was a front runner all month, and ended up winning when JR Hildebrand crashed out of the lead at the final corner.
"I just knew when I started this race that I wanted to do everything in my power to deliver a win for not just myself, I didn't feel we had anything to prove, but for such a great group of people," said Wheldon of the Herta team. "You can think I'm giving you the media cheesy line, but it's not like that. The people who form this team, the relationships that we've all kind of bonded very quickly, has been extremely good.
"With a Cinderella story we took on the might of Roger Penske's organization and Chip Ganassi. We've had a very, very quick car all month. I don't think I saw a Penske in front of me all of the race. So that's a testament to the team. So now when I'm on the beach with my wife and two kids, we can honestly be proud of what we've achieved together."
Herta said Wheldon should take a great deal of the credit for the team's performance.
"Dan has done such a great job. One of the things he did for us is bring an attitude and a belief we could win this race," said Herta. "On paper we really had no business believing we could win it. But Dan believed in us so strongly he made us believe it, too. I really think over the course of this last two weeks, he made the crew guys believe it, he made a lot of people on the outside believe it, because so many people were coming up to us the week of the race saying, 'We think you're going to win.' It was so uplifting.
"It's really his spirit that came across the whole team and made us believe we had a chance to win this thing. So when these strategies were playing out, I wasn't sure how it was going to work out. But we knew we wanted to give this guy enough fuel to race to the end, just keep it flat. We didn't want to save fuel, we wanted to go race those guys. Somehow it all worked out."
Wheldon said he had given it absolutely everything in the closing laps once it was clear how the strategies were unfolding.
"On the radio with 20 to go, they said: 'Listen, this is the deal. Some people are going to try to make it on fuel. You're one of the guys who can make it to the end. But you've got to go and you have to make sure you get everything out of the car that you possibly can,'" Wheldon explained. "So I said to myself at that point, 'I'm going to move the weight jacker every lap to optimize every single corner, adjust the roll bars to be able to just maximize everything.' I didn't have a problem. I was able to catch traffic perfectly without having to lift. They said that there was one person who potentially could make it, I believe. So that made me even more hungry."
• Click here for an extended post-race interview with Wheldon and Herta