Justin Wilson will return to Auto Club Speedway just over 300 days since suffering a pelvis-breaking injury at the track.
Fontana, Calif. – After overcoming adversity and doubling down on his physical training, Justin Wilson will return to Auto Club Speedway for the MAVTV500 on Saturday night (broadcast: NBCSN, 9:00 PM ET) just over 300 days since suffering a pelvis-breaking injury at the track in the season-finale race at the track last year.
The race once again marks the Verizon IndyCar Series season-finale round, as well a remarkable recovery for Wilson, who will be back in action for Dale Coyne Racing in the No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda/Dallara.
Wilson, who has a victory on a big oval on his IndyCar resume, anticipates the Saturday night shootout to be a challenging one as he looks to close out the year on a high note.
“It’s a very tough track, because you are right on the edge at 220 miles an hour,” said Wilson. “There is a lot to deal with, with the speeds and the surface. The (pavement) seams can really catch you out. Even getting a bit of a side draft can make a big difference, like it did to me last year.”
The track changes through the entire race, and of course you are working with a car that is also changing through the fuel run and as the tires degrade,
The injury didn’t require surgery, but it did lock Wilson in a brace for weeks on end before he was able to return to his training regimen, building up as the healing process allowed him to.
“That was probably the most frustrating part, just not being able to get out on my bike and having to just wait, that's really hard for guys like me to do!” said Wilson.
Running from the daytime hours into the California night, the MAVTV 500 will make for a complex challenge for drivers and engineers alike.
“The track changes through the entire race, and of course you are working with a car that is also changing through the fuel run and as the tires degrade,” said Wilson. “The key is not to have a car that’s really fast over one lap, but one that's good through that entire run. You need the balance to be consistent through that full run. It’s exciting for the fans as cars move forward and back depending on how they are able to work through each stint. Hopefully we can be among the guys moving forward.”
The weekend will open with testing on Wednesday evening, giving Wilson and the IndyCar runners a chance to establish a baseline for the weekend to work from.