Justin Wilson Surprises at the Firestone 550
Monday, June 11, 2012 at 1:18 PM
Acknowledged street racing expert Justin Wilson
won the IndyCar Firestone 550
on Saturday night at the Texas Motor Speedway in Ft. Worth, Texas. Wilson won his seventh IndyCar race but first on an oval for Dale Coyne Racing with a Honda engine. Wilson was the first winner from a team other than Penske or Ganassi in 2012.
"Without hesitation I said, `I want to win at Texas. People think I can't drive at this track, so I want to put that to rest,"
Wilson was the beneficiary of a brush of the wall from Graham Rahal two laps from the end as he passed the slowing Rahal and cruised to the oval victory.
The IndyCar drivers were nervous heading into the race as the Texas Motor Speedway is a 1.5 mile oval with steep banking similar to the Las Vegas race last October that saw a 15 car pileup and the death of Dan Wheldon due to pack racing. Adjustments to the cars by changing the rear wing to change the down force allowed for more difficult handling of the cars but safer driving with no pack racing.
Ganassi driver, Scott Dixon
dominated the early part of the race as he led 133 of the first 173 laps. Inexplicably, he lost control coming out of the second turn with 55 laps to go and crashed.
“We just got loose,” Dixon said. “For the last 10 laps of that stint I was just really fighting to hold on. 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.”
Dixon won the previous race at Belle Isle and finished second at the Indianapolis 500 and sits second in the season long points race but lost ten points to points leader Will Power after Power finished eighth.
Power was the driver to beat after Dixon’s crash taking the lead on lap 171 until he blocked Tony Kanaan trying to pass on the low side of the track. Power’s maneuver damaged Kanaan’s front wing which took Kanaan out of contention and caused Power to suffer a drive through the pits penalty for blocking.
Wilson was the beneficiary of incidents involving Dixon, Power, and Rahal but he stayed close to the leaders and gave himself a chance to win his first oval race. Rahal finished second while Ryan Briscoe, James Hinchcliffe, and J.R. Hildebrand rounded out the top 5.
IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard still needs to negotiate a return trip to TMS for 2013 but it is essential that IndyCar race at the track as it has for many years. Texas and specifically the Dallas/Ft. Worth markets are important to the growth of the Izod IndyCar series and oval tracks are an important element of open wheel racing.
Results of the IZOD IndyCar Firestone 550 at Texas Motor Speedway
(Starting position in parentheses)
1. (17) Justin Wilson, Dallara-Honda, 228, Running.
2. (3) Graham Rahal, Dallara-Honda, 228, Running.
3. (10) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara-Chevrolet, 228, Running.
4. (6) James Hinchcliffe, Dallara-Chevrolet, 228, Running.
5. (23) J.R. Hildebrand, Dallara-Chevrolet, 228, Running.
6. (9) Simon Pagenaud, Dallara-Honda, 228, Running.
7. (15) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Chevrolet, 227, Running.
8. (5) Will Power, Dallara-Chevrolet, 227, Running.
9. (1) Alex Tagliani, Dallara-Honda, 227, Running.
10. (21) James Jakes, Dallara-Honda, 227, Running.
11. (7) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Chevrolet, 227, Running.
12. (19) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Chevrolet, 227, Running.
13. (25) Josef Newgarden, Dallara-Honda, 226, Running.
14. (2) Dario Franchitti, Dallara-Honda, 225, Running.
15. (22) Katherine Legge, Dallara-Chevrolet, 224, Running.
16. (18) Mike Conway, Dallara-Honda, 224, Running.
17. (8) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Chevrolet, 222, Running.
18. (4) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 173, Contact.
19. (14) E.J. Viso, Dallara-Chevrolet, 129, Mechanical.
20. (11) Oriol Servia, Dallara-Chevrolet, 89, Mechanical.
21. (13) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Chevrolet, 66, Mechanical.
22. (20) Takuma Sato, Dallara-Honda, 63, Contact.
23. (16) Charlie Kimball, Dallara-Honda, 29, Contact.
24. (12) Rubens Barrichello, Dallara-Chevrolet, 0, Did Not Start.
25. (24) Simona de Silvestro, Dallara-Lotus, 0, Did Not Start.