The race featured multiple strategies.
Sonoma, Calif. – Justin Wilson moved up from 16th on the GoPro Grand Prix grid to finish ninth on Sunday in the penultimate race of the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series season.
Looking for a return to the Sonoma podium after finishing last year’s race in second for Dale Coyne Racing, Wilson endured a wild start to the race, with multiple cars coming together echoing the opening moments of the race at Mid-Ohio. While Wilson had to once again take to the dirt to avoid contact, it didn’t set his race back as it had at Mid-Ohio as he was able to grab five positions with his off-road maneuver.
We had a good strategy and in the end, moving up from 16th to ninth isn't the worst result in the world,
The race featured multiple strategies, with Wilson first taking the No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda/Dallara to the pits on lap 13, and then breaking into the top-10 just a few laps later. After moving up to run as high as sixth, Wilson’s next stop for service saw him back in the wars, fighting up from 14th ahead of a final stop for fuel on lap 61 of the 85-lap race.
Some fierce fighting in the pack saw Wilson move back up into the top-10 late in the race while the various strategies played out. A manic last few corners saw Wilson credited with a ninth place finish, which marked his seventh top-10 of the season.
After the opening practice and qualifying sessions during the two-day weekend, Wilson had predicted tire management to be key to a strong run and the race proved his prediction correct.
"It was a tough day because we weren't the best on our tires,” said Wilson. “I knew this would be key in having a good race and I wasn't able to make them last. I pushed as hard as I could but the end result is frustrating.”
Having proven to be upwardly mobile in the dramatic race was a positive from the Sonoma event, but Wilson had been hoping for even more out of the final road race of the season.
“We had a good strategy and in the end, moving up from 16th to ninth isn't the worst result in the world,” said Wilson. “The team did a great job and if things had fallen a bit differently, I think I could have finished a little bit higher. We have a quick turnaround to next weekend where I hope I can have a better performance.”
The 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series will race to its conclusion with the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.