Homestead: Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing race report

McDONALD'S DRIVER WILSON FINISHED 15TH DESPITE RIGHT REAR FLAT IN HIS INDYCAR SERIES DEBUT AT THE SEASON-OPENING GAINSCO AUTO INSURANCE INDY 300 - McDonald's driver Justin Wilson drove to a 15th place finish in his IndyCar Series debut tonight...

McDONALD'S DRIVER WILSON FINISHED 15TH DESPITE RIGHT REAR FLAT IN HIS INDYCAR SERIES DEBUT AT THE SEASON-OPENING GAINSCO AUTO INSURANCE INDY 300

- McDonald's driver Justin Wilson drove to a 15th place finish in his IndyCar Series debut tonight in the Gainsco Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway despite an extra pit stop to replace a flat right rear tire due to contact with Will Power. Wilson qualified 17th but started 15th due to the disqualification of Ed Carpenter and A.J. Foyt IV's cars following qualifying. The command to start engines came at 8:13 p.m. ET and the race began with Wilson holding his position and temporarily ran as high as 14th before his first stop on Lap 20 during the first caution of the race for debris. On the restart he and Will Power came into contact when Power drifted down from the high line which resulted in a flat right rear tire on Wilson's car and left suspension damage on Power's who subsequently returned from the event due to the damage. Wilson limped around the race track and into the pits for the new tire and was three laps down by the time he returned to the track in 23rd place of 25 cars. He soldiered on through a total of seven pit stops and ended the race six laps down to the eventual race winner Scott Dixon.JOnly four cars were on the lead lap. He collected 15 points for his finish.

Following are Wilson's post race comments:

"I got caught out on the restart," said Wilson. "The opposite to what you normally expect happened. I had a good run and everyone opened up in the middle. In this form of racing you can race as soon as they shout 'Green.' It had been green for about four seconds and so I am going through the middle and they started to close down on me. I had a car on the left, I was in the middle and there was a car on the right. I was the meat in the sandwich. Will (Power) was on the right and I'm not sure why he was coming down as much as he was but it just got too tight. I don't know if he had somebody pushing him. I feel suckered into getting caught in the middle but its how this racing goes. I don't know what else was happening to cause the other guys to come low but that caused a puncture and we lost three laps. It was tough; I was hoping they were going to throw a yellow but they didn't even with bits falling off. We lost three laps with that and it was then pretty much a case of trying not to lose much else and hang on. The McDonald's car was working really well. I was very pleased that we were quicker than a lot of people. Everyone on the team has worked so hard the last four weeks. I'm very pleased we completed our first IndyCar Series race. I'm a lot more confident. I think our race pace is a lot better than our qualifying pace. I know we have a lot to do but this gave us something to build on for the future. We will go to Sebring on Tuesday to get an idea on how these cars feel on a road course then go to St. Petersburg and do something we are more familiar with. We should be further up in order. Not necessarily at the front but certainly further forward on the time sheets. Also the right mirror lens was pointing down at the sidepod so I couldn't see out of the right side the entire race. I saw it had been moved when I was on the formation lap."

- Up Next... Wilson and Rahal are scheduled to test for a few hours on the Sebring International Raceway road course on the afternoon of Tuesday, April 1 prior to heading to St. Petersburg for the Honda Indy Grand Prix.

-credit: nhlr

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , A.J. Foyt IV , Will Power , Ed Carpenter