Justin Wilson Comes Up Big At Texas Oval

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, June 9 2012

Justin Wilson got his first oval victory Saturday night in Texas. (INDYCAR/LAT USA)


Justin Wilson took the lead when leader Graham Wilson scraped the wall with less than two laps to go and went on to win the Firestone 550k IZOD IndyCar Series race at Texas Motor Speedway Saturday evening.

The victory was the first of the year for the Dale Coyne Racing driver and second of his career.

“It’s just fantastic,” Wilson said. “Dale has put so much into it. I just can’t believe we managed to pull this off. The car was fantastic. And on the long runs, it just got better and better. I saw people sliding around and knew I just had to hit my marks.”

Rahal, who had a big lead when he clipped the wall, wobbled home second – 3.9 seconds behind Wilson.

“I just messed up,” Rahal said. “It just washed out a  little bit.”

Ryan Briscoe of Team Penske was third and James Hinchcliffe of Andretti Autosport was fourth.

J.R. Hildebrand of Panther Racing was fifth.

Rounding out the top 10 were Simon Pagenaud and lapped drivers Helio Castroneves, Will Power, pole-sitter Alex Tagliani and James Jakes.

Scott Dixon of Target Chip Ganassi Racing dominated much of the race but suddenly ran into trouble.

Dixon was leading but slowed with 58 laps to go and Team Penske’s Power took the lead. Two laps later, after leading 133 of the first 174 laps, Dixon crashed.

“Just got loose,” Dixon, who won last weekend’s race at Belle Isle, said. “We had been getting loose at the end of stints. For the last ten laps of that last stint I was just really fighting to hold on. That time there I kind of got into the middle of few people we were trying to lap and I was trying to get back up to (Will) Power there. I turned in and the rear just started to slide and I kind of dipped down onto the apron and shut around again. I feel bad for the guys. We had a really good car and I think we had a good chance to win here tonight.”

Power came out of the pits after the wreck first and teammate Briscoe was second.

But a couple of laps later, Power was forced to give up the lead after being penalized for blocking Tony Kanaan on the restart. His drive-through penalty gave Briscoe the lead.

“I had (Ryan) Briscoe on the outside and Tony (Kanaan) took me by surprise,” Power said. “I feel bad for him. I ruined his day because he had to come in and change the front wing, and we ruined our own day by getting the penalty. I do have to say, that’s the best racing I’ve ever had on an oval. The car was moving around. And that’s the sort of racing we need at places like this. Feel bad for the Verizon guys. Feel like we could have won the race.”

Kanaan, meanwhile, was forced to pit in order to change the nose cone of his car which was damaged during when he was blocked.

With 29 laps to go, Rahal passed Briscoe for the lead. It appeared he was cruising to the victory but then came the brush with the wall.

“I just made a mistake, you know?” Rahal said. “I mean the car was pushing through the center of 3 and 4 pretty well the last stint, and it would kind of grip up for me late in the corner and I kind of stayed with it because they told me Justin was coming. So I was trying to pick up the pace a little bit, and honestly it just never gripped up, and I didn’t give myself enough of a margin for error.

“You know, I own up to it, and we’ll come back and we’ll win one here, and I certainly feel like it should have been today. Obviously for the entire NTB/Service Central crew, this is going to bother us, but we know we can run with these guys, we know we can win and hopefully we’ll do it next week in Milwaukee.”

Results Saturday of the Firestone 550 IZOD IndyCar Series event on the 1.455 mile Texas Motor Speedway, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):

1. (17) Justin Wilson, Dallara-Honda, 228, Running

2. (3) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 228, Running

3. (10) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara-Chevy, 228, Running

4. (6) James Hinchcliffe, Dallara-Chevy, 228, Running

5. (23) JR Hildebrand, Dallara-Chevy, 228, Running

6. (9) Simon Pagenaud, Dallara-Honda, 228, Running

7. (15) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Chevy, 227, Running

8. (5) Will Power, Dallara-Chevy, 227, Running

9. (1) Alex Tagliani, Dallara-Honda, 227, Running

10. (21) James Jakes, Dallara-Honda, 227, Running

11. (7) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Chevy, 227, Running

12. (19) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Chevy, 227, Running

13. (25) Josef Newgarden, Dallara-Honda, 226, Running

14. (2) Dario Franchitti, Dallara-Honda, 225, Running

15. (22) Katherine Legge, Dallara-Chevy, 224, Running

16. (18) Mike Conway, Dallara-Honda, 224, Running

17. (8) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Chevy, 222, Running

18. (4) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 173, Contact

19. (14) EJ Viso, Dallara-Chevy, 129, Mechanical

20. (11) Oriol Servia, Dallara-Chevy, 89, Mechanical

21. (13) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Chevy, 66, Mechanical

22. (20) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, 63, Contact

23. (16) Charlie Kimball, Dallara-Honda, 29, Contact

24. (12) Rubens Barrichello, Dallara-Chevy, 0, Did Not Start

25. (24) Simona de Silvestro, Dallara-Lotus, 0, Did Not Start

Race Statistics

Winners average speed: 167.217

Time of Race: 01:59:02.0131

Margin of victory: 3.9202 seconds

Cautions: 4 for 32 laps

Lead changes: 9 among 7 drivers

Lap Leaders:

Tagliani 1 – 20

Dixon 21 – 116

Wilson 117 – 125

Dixon 126 – 133

Hinchcliffe 134 – 141

Dixon 142 – 170

Power 171 – 194

Briscoe 195 – 199

Rahal 200 – 226

Wilson 227 – 228

Point Standings: Power 256, Dixon 222, Hinchcliffe 208, Castroneves 203, Pagenaud 199, Franchitti 192, Hunter-Reay 181, Briscoe 177, Kanaan 160, Wilson 156.

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, June 9 2012
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