Justin Wilson and Dale Coyne Racing endured a frustrating opening day in Fontana as they prepared for Saturday night’s MAV TV 500.

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

Photo by: Michael C. Johnson

They were forced to sit out qualifying while repairing the #18 Sonny’s Bar-B-Q Honda after the car, which was handling well at the time on new tyres, suddenly and inexplicably span in Turn 1 during Practice 1 on Friday morning.

“We’re still not sure why it happened,” said Justin. “I was at a slower speed at the point where it let go than I was on the first new tyre run.”

The whole Dale Coyne Racing team rallied to repair damage and worked through qualifying, getting the #18 car back on track again just after the start of Practice 2. By the end of that session, as the sun was going down, Justin was running quick times on a high line around the 2-mile oval and ended up 8th on the timesheets.

He’s optimistic that further changes will give them a chance to move forward from a starting position of 25th in Saturday’s race.

“It's been a tough day,” Justin reflected. “The crash this morning set us back, but I've got to say a big thank you to the Dale Coyne Racing guys who did a great job getting the Sonny’s Bar-B-Q Honda ready so that we could go out and learn some more this evening.

Practice 2 was good and we were reasonably quick, especially considering we were sat on the rev limiter because of the wind on the front stretch. Obviously we'd love some more track time, but I think we've got a reasonable car for tomorrow. We've just got to keep working on it and play it smart."

Marco Andretti took pole position for Andretti Autosport with a four lap average qualifying speed of 216.069mph and will line up alongside Team Penske’s Ryan Briscoe on the front row. Justin’s team-mate James Jakes qualified 24th but will start from 12th due to grid penalites being served by other drivers for unapproved engine changes.

Source: Justin Wilson