In choosing the words for his statement, Randy Bernard put in the right things.

Talk of his smile and his personality along with his talent were prerequisite for a tribute to Dan Wheldon, who died in a crash at the Izod IndyCar Series World Championships in Las Vegas on Sunday.

But there was one statement that must me included in the same, if perhaps at times overlooked by others.

"You could never ask for a better ambassador to a sport," said Bernard in a statement released by the series.

Its fitting for the 33-year old, because unlike others in the racing world, the IndyCar series was the place to be.

Competing in the series was the reason for Wheldon leaving his native England, where he began racing when he was four years old. Coming to the United States in 1999, Wheldon began competition in the F2000 Championship Series, the Toyota Atlantic series and then Indy Lights series.

Finally he got his chance to race in 2002 with Panther Racing, making his debut in Chicago with a tenth place finish. Things ramped up when he signed with then Andretti Green Racing in 2003, as Wheldon competed in 14 races and finished 11th in the points in the Klein Tools car that would define the early part of his career.

Wheldon found his groove in the series in 2004, winning his first race at Motegi and capturing another two at Richmond and Nazareth to end the season second in points.

In 2005, Wheldon enjoyed a banner year, one in which he won the Indianapolis 500 with a late pass of Danica Patrick. The victory on the two-and-a-half mile oval was one of six on the year in what would be his first and only IndyCar championship season.

That success led to a three-year contract with series power Ganassi racing, where Wheldon almost won a title again in 2006, finishing second behind former Panther Racing teammate Sam Hornish junior. After a pair of fourth place finishes, however, Wheldon and Ganassi parted ways and the driver returned to his roots at Panther.

While driving the National Guard machine, Wheldon found new success in the Indianapolis 500 and finished second in 2009 and 2010. Though still competitive, Wheldon was unable to find the winners circle in two years with Panther and was done with that team at the end of the 2010 season.

At first 2011 seemed as if it would be a year without competition for Wheldon, who went into the season without a contract. All he had was a one race deal with Bryan Herta Autosport for the Indianapolis 500-but he made the most out of it.

Wheldon was in second place on the final lap of the 100th Anniversary race when he caught a break. JR Hildebrand, who took over the seat vacated by Wheldon at Panther, smacked the turn four wall with the lead in the final turn, allowing the number 99 to pass for the victory.

Thought it didn't get him a full time ride for the rest of the season, the win opened the door for Wheldon to become the test driver for the new 2012 Izod IndyCar Series machine. He ran it through tests at Mid-Ohio, Iowa and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in late September.

In what would be the final deal of his racing career, Wheldon accepted a challenge from Bernard to come race at Las Vegas as part of the five million dollar challenge for the final race. He would start in 33rd and if he could come from the back and win, would split the prize with an IndyCar Series fan.

Wheldon made it 11 laps into that challenge when he was caught up in a massive wreck and went airborne into the catch fence. He was airlifted to University Medical Center where he was prounounced dead, suffering from massive head injuries.

Wheldon is survived by his wife, Susie, and two children Sebastian and Oliver.