Lexington, Ohio – Justin Wilson returned to IZOD IndyCar Series race action in the No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda on Sunday for Dale Coyne Racing, keeping the pace for a flat out flag to flag green run to score an eighth place finish in the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio.
A quick stop for fuel and tires by the Dale Coyne crew moved Wilson onto the Firestone ‘Black’ tires, satisfying the requirement to use both compounds during the race. Wilson emerged from the pits in eighth place, making up part of a long line of cars behind the leader.
As the race continued, several teams opted to run two-stop pit strategies but Wilson and his Dale Coyne engineers decided to pit three times to get the No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda into clean air, in an attempt to gain track position on the difficult to pass 2.258-mile road course.
Wilson’s second stop came on Lap 42, and the British driver switched onto ‘Red’ Firehawks to maximize grip on the slippery central Ohio road course. He returned to the track 14th in the order, but made his way up to eighth within seven laps.
In a rapid race that ran caution-free for the first time since last year’s Mid-Ohio event, Wilson ran in fifth until he was called back to pit lane for his final stop with 24 laps to go. Once again, he took ‘Red’ Firestone tires and the crew took out a half turn of wing to adjust the car’s balance and improve its handling in traffic.
After everyone in the field had made their final pit stops, Wilson ran 10th in the final stages of the race as he set out to move forward in the waning laps. In a race with little side-by-side action, Wilson provided some excitement as he made his way by James Hinchcliffe to take the ninth position before also taking over eighth place when he masterfully maneuvered by Marco Andretti in the ‘esses’ with six laps remaining.
“The car was pretty good – maybe not perfect but there are always things you want to be better,” said Wilson following the race. “It was just frustrating because we got caught in the middle of the strategies there – the three stop and the two stop – and we had to decide what to do and try to do something different. It was a hard-fought race, pushing like crazy the entire race. Just slipping around out there.
There wasn’t a lot of grip today so we were slipping all over the place. It was tough. I was hoping we could do a little bit better but we’ll just keep pushing away. It’s hard to get close enough to make something happen here. It’s just tough – nobody’s getting even close enough to crash into each other!
For a while there, we were just trying to do what the leaders were doing. We were saving fuel like they were but it just didn’t work for us. We weren’t quite good enough today but we’ll keep working on it. We’re doing the right things and I think we’ll have another podium pretty soon.”
With the eighth place result, Wilson remains ninth in the championship standings and will look to build momentum in the championship hunt as the IZOD IndyCar Series travels to Sonoma in three weeks.
Wilson will have just a short break before returning to GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series race action at Road America next weekend as he rejoins Michael Shank Racing in the No. 6 Daytona Prototype teaming with Gustavo Yacaman.