From the sidelines to the front lines

Justin Wilson and Ryan Briscoe didn't have IndyCar rides at the start of 2015, but will now run the final five events of the season.

Six months ago, an Australian and a Briton had no plans for the coming Verizon IndyCar Series season. Today it was confirmed that UK native Justin Wilson will join Australian Ryan Briscoe on the five remaining grids of this 16-race season.

Neither driver - both winners in the series - came by their latest rides easily.

Wilson on Andretti's radar

Wilson has been on team owner Michael Andretti’s radar screen for several years and was tabbed to work full-time with Andretti Autosport this year - but the deciding factory, money, never materialized. Andretti thought he had a partner to run Wilson for the 2015 campaign, but that fell through at the last moment, leaving the Brit on the sidelines for all but two events in the first half of the year.

It’s no wonder Michael Andretti wanted to find a spot for J-Wil. With 170 Verizon IndyCar Series starts over 13 seasons, he’s earned seven victories, 26 podium results, 93 top 10s and has led more than 700 laps while working with a variety of teams, most recently Dale Coyne Racing.

Briscoe's break comes at the expense of Hinchcliffe

Briscoe simply had nothing at the start of the 2015 season, other than the work he’d been hired to do for Corvette Racing in the IMSA series and at Le Mans, running only the endurance races. After spending the past few years at both Team Penske and Ganassi Racing, holding eight victories and 13 poles since he joined the Indy cars in 2005, there he was on the IndyCar sidelines.

Ryan Briscoe got his opportunity the way no one likes to - through a debilitating injury to 2015 race winner James Hinchcliffe that occurred when the Canadian was practicing on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval. Tabbed as a Schmidt Peterson Motorsports substitute for the 99th Indianapolis 500, the Aussie acquitted himself well with a 12th place result, jumping into a totally unfamiliar Honda car. After going to Le Mans (but not racing following Jan Magnussen’s accident), Briscoe finished eighth in Texas and would have done well at Fontana had he not been in that final-lap shunt; he was classified 15th.

Briscoe has now been confirmed as the permanent 2015 relief driver for Hinchcliffe; it’s a grand fit.

And today, Andretti Autosport stated that Wilson is driving the No. 25 Honda for the team through to the end of the year. Although he’s notched only a 24th and 21st result at the brace of Indianapolis races in May, team owner Andretti stated, “He did a really great job for us at the Indianapolis races and is a great addition to the team. The only downside of getting him back in the car is that we weren’t able to do it sooner.”

Sometimes perseverance does pay off - it sure has for these two guys!

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Ryan Briscoe
Teams Andretti Autosport , Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
Article type Commentary