Returns to Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course for benchmark career Verizon IndyCar Series race start.
Indianapolis, Ind. – The month of May has long played an iconic role in the landscape of the sport as winter thaws and the weeks leading up to the Indianapolis 500 add drama with each day. That excitement will start a little bit earlier this year, as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway stages the inaugural Grand Prix of Indianapolis this Saturday, May 11 on the new Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) road course.
Justin Wilson, who will make his 100th Verizon IndyCar Series-sanctioned start (Wilson also has 54 starts in ChampCar) on Saturday, recently took part in a test at the new circuit and it was the first time since 2003 - when he raced Formula 1 at Indianapolis - that he circled the track clockwise. The updated infield road course is 2.434-miles in length and features 14 turns. A portion of the famed oval is used as part of the circuit with racers driving Turns 1 and 2 of the oval as well as the front straight.
“It feels like a completely different track from the last time I did the road course here because we didn’t go through Turn 1 of the oval,” said Wilson, who pilots the No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda for Dale Coyne Racing. “The first turn of the road course is a lot tighter than what I remember from 10 years ago so it feels very different. I think this new track is going to be a lot better. The corners leading into the back straight give you a lot of options and so does the corner leading into the front straight, so you can definitely try and set something up and the straights are long enough that you can definitely make something happen.”
From his Formula 1 days on the old road course to his previous six Indianapolis 500 starts, IMS holds some fond memories for the British driver. Last year, Wilson was the top-finishing Honda in the Indianapolis 500 when he placed fifth in the historic race.
The No. 19 Boy Scouts of America has seen a roller coaster ride of ups and downs so far this year with Wilson showing strong pace in the St. Pete season opener and then again at Long Beach only to be taken out of the race while running second. He took sixth in the most recent round of Barber Motorsports Park after improving 10 spots from his 16th starting position. Having collected valuable data at the Indianapolis road course test, Wilson is hopeful of another strong outing with Dale Coyne Racing this weekend.
“It’s a challenging track, trying to get the power down and get the entries just right,” said Wilson. “But I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. It’s going to be really good to race on. It’s fun learning what is basically a new track, and I think that’s going to make the race interesting as well.”
The Verizon IndyCar Series will take its first official practice laps on Thursday, May 8 and will qualify Friday afternoon. The Grand Prix of Indianapolis will be televised Saturday live on ABC with coverage beginning at 3:30 PM ET.