Street-fighting fourth moves Wilson up in the championship

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Justin Wilson now sits sixth in the IndyCar title fight in the streets of Baltimore. With the weekend off, Wilson will stay busy as he joins Michael Shank Racing at the Grand-Am event in Laguna Seca.

Baltimore, Md. – Justin Wilson emerged from a wild race on the streets of Baltimore to score fourth in the No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda for Dale Coyne Racing on Sunday. The third edition of the Baltimore Grand Prix presented by SRT saw the field slowed some six times for a total of 25 yellow flag laps as the tight confines of the 2.4-mile temporary street circuit proved to be too tight for the IndyCar field on multiple occasions as it staged Round 16 of the 2013 championship.

Justin Wilson, Dale Coyne Racing Honda
Justin Wilson, Dale Coyne Racing Honda

Photo by: John Cote

Wilson’s top-five finish came despite multiple off-track excursions to avoid trouble as well as a final challenge when he was hit and spun late in the race by Sebastian Bourdais. Wilson opened the 75-lap race from fourth on the grid after capturing his best starting position of the year on Saturday in the No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda. His race started out strongly but Wilson began experiencing rear brake issues on Lap 4.

When the first full course caution of the race was displayed on Lap 12, Dale Coyne Racing engineer Bill Pappas brought Wilson to pit lane for an early pit stop in which the Dale Coyne Racing crew delivered routine service as well as a turn of wing and a tire pressure adjustment. Wilson returned to the track on the Firestone ‘Black’ tires to restart from 14th in line. Despite the brake issues, Wilson advanced two positions when the race went back to green and moved into the top-10 by Lap 25.

But the lack of brakes not only cost Wilson lap time as he worked to preserve the temperatures to last the full 75-lap race distance, it also cost him track position on Lap 27 when he lost the brakes completely going into the high speed Turn 1 and was forced to take to the escape route in order to avoid contact with the wall. The detour through the runoff saw Wilson return to the track 18th in the order.

Wilson worked his way back into the top-15 as he set a consistent pace while managing the brakes. On Lap 41, Dale Coyne Racing took advantage of another full course caution to bring the No. 19 Boy Scouts of America car to pit road for fuel and Firestone ‘Red’ tires. Wilson restarted 14th and worked his way up to 10th through a series of three restarts which saw a multi-car incident in Turn 1 on each restart attempt. Wilson masterfully avoided the carnage each time around and found himself back up to fourth with 15 laps remaining in the race.

But the forward progress was halted on Lap 63 when the No. 19 Boy Scouts of America machine was turned by Bourdais in Turn 1. Wilson managed to keep the car off the wall and return to the fray, but had lost valuable track position.

“It’s frustrating when you’re trying to give room and trying to race people clean and they tap you around way past the apex and they don’t get a penalty for it," said Wilson. "It’s just not right so I’m pretty frustrated with that. To me, that’s avoidable contact."

Following the contact, Wilson lined up 10th when the field went back to green for a furious final nine-lap run to the checkered flag. The experienced Wilson weaved his way up the order to improve six positions and take fourth at the checkered flag.

"It was a strange race but I’m really pleased that we managed to hang on and get fourth place with the Boy Scouts of America car because here in Baltimore we have a big following," said Wilson, who scored his fifth top-five finish of the season. "So I’m pleased for them and for Honda to win as well. It’s a tough track and I appreciate all the fans that come out. The support we’ve had over the last few days has been great. It was a tough race. I lost the rear brakes completely from about Lap 4. The pedal was going to the floor so I was just trying to hang on."

The result moves Wilson up to sixth in the provisional IZOD IndyCar Series championship standings (393 points) – just 34-points out of the top-five.

Wilson finished second in the IZOD IndyCar Series race held in Sonoma, California prior to Baltimore and will be back in the “Golden State” next weekend as he once again joins Michael Shank Racing in the No. 6 Daytona Prototype for the Continental Tire Sports Car Festival at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca September 7-8.

Justin Wilson Press

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Series INDYCAR
Article type Race reports
Tags baltimore, championship battle, indycar, justin, street circit, wilson