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Wilson gutted not to win.


Spending a few extra days celebrating by soaking up the sun in St Petersburg with his family before heading home to Colorado will be a welcome spring break after a winter of discontent of Justin Wilson.

When Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing didn't renew the Briton's contract because of a lack of sponsorship - despite him winning on the temporary Belle Isle street course last August - he was left to shop around for a ride just to remain in the IndyCar Series. Even as it was rumoured that he was looking elsewhere to keep his career on track, Wilson finally struck a deal with Dale Coyne Racing before the first open test in late February.

“This is a great place for me after a long, tough winter,” said Wilson, defying Coyne's reputation as backmarker team making the most of what it has by starting an unexpected second for the 100-lap Honda Grand Prix, "I can't say enough about Dale and the guys.

"I'm very pleased with our first showing together. We've been quick all weekend and I actually think we could have had pole, but unfortunately we were held up and that ruined our best two laps.”

Things looked even more promising as he grabbed the lead at turn one and set a blistering pace in the early stages, but fortune had a mixed day of events in store for the #19 Sonny's Bar-B-Q car.

It was nice to get the jump on Graham [Rahal] into turn one and, from that point on, we were just pushing hard, trying to save fuel and do the best we could,” Wilson explained, “Unfortunately, the yellow came out just at the wrong point and that put me back in the pack. I had to work my way back through to have a chance of winning the race.”

On lap 32, several teams pitted and had the good fortune of a full course yellow on lap 33 which, the #19 having not stopped, would relegate Wilson back to ninth. Seasoned team strategy then forged ahead, running Wilson at a pace necessary to keep in touch with the leaders, and he had battled his way back to third when Ryan Briscoe and Dan Wheldon, then first and second, pitted. At that point, Wilson had three more laps to go before his stop, and gave it everything he had before the team performed a blistering pit-stop that enabled him to shoot out of the pits and back into the lead.

“As I came out of the pits, I saw how close it was going to be,” he recalled, “My tyres were cold, but I knew that, if I could get through the next couple of corners, I'd be able to hold onto it. The tyres just came up to temperature and we were able to hang in there.”

Things were looking good again as the Briton began to pull away from the field with what appeared to be a clean run to the end of the race, but another caution came out with 15 laps to go, and the ensuing restart proved to be the undoing of what could have been the team's first win in IndyCar.



Related Pictures

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Justin Wilson - Dale Coyne Racing   [pic credit: IRL/Haines]
Ed Jones, Dale Coyne Racing, IndyCar [Credit: Ed Jones PR]
Kyle Kaiser (Juncos Racing) celebrates at Laguna Seca
Kyle Kaiser - Juncos Racing
Ed Carpenter Racing crew working on the boss` car   [pic credit: IndyCar Media/Chris Owens]
Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi Racing) on his way to victory at Watkins Glen   [pic credit: Indycar media/Chris Owens]
Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi Racing) on his way to pole at Watkins Glen   [pic credit: Indycar media/Chris Owens]
Justin Wilson tribute at Pocono   [pic credit: Indycar media/Chris Owens]
Ed Jones - Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Scott Dixon - Target Chip Ganassi Racing   [pic credit: IndyCar Media/JOE SKIBINSKI]
Josef Newgarden - Ed Carpenter Racing   [pic credit: IndyCar Media/Shawn Gritzmacher]
Josef Newgarden - Ed Carpenter Racing [credit: Chris Jones]
Spencer Pigot - Ed Carpenter Racing
Sebastian Bourdais (KVSH Racing) celebrates in Detroit   [image creid: IndyCar Media/Chris Owens]
Sebastian Bourdais - KVSH Racing   [image credit: IndyCar Media/Chris Owens]
Simon Pagenaud - Team Penske   [pic credit: IndyCar Media/Richard Dowdy]
Ed Carpenter - Ed Carpenter Racing [credit: IndyCar Series]
Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6 celebrates his victory Sunday, March 13, 2016 after winning the Verizon IndyCar Series Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg, Florida. It is the second year in a row Montoya has won this race. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)

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