Justin Wilson has admitted that he cannot wait to get back onto the sort of road course on which he made his name in motorsport, as the IndyCar Series prepares for a three-race break from the ovals.
After six such races in quick succession, Sunday's Camping World Grand Prix at Watkins Glen paves the way for Wilson to get his teeth into a discipline more in keeping with his background. The 3.37-mile course in upstate New York is a personal favourite of the Briton, who narrowly missed out on pole position there in 2008 and was forced to retire with gearbox problems in the race.
In a recent test session, Wilson he was just a tenth of a second off last year's pole time and is naturally keen to show what he and Dale Coyne Racing can do this weekend, especially after starring at St Petersburg and Long Beach earlier in the year.
"I've been looking forward to Watkins Glen for weeks!" Wilson said, "It's a real driver's track - quite technical, very fast and satisfying when you get it right. We know that, in the next few road and street races, we can remind people what this team is really capable of. We don't have much practice time here, but our test a few weeks ago went very well. We're definitely aiming for a podium finish."
The Briton's confidence will also have been buoyed by his strongest oval speed of the year while racing under the lights at the SunTrust Indy Challenge on Saturday night. After starting 15th, he held his own on the tough D-shaped Richmond oval, while the team kept making positive adjustments to the #18 Z-Line Designs car at every stop. However, despite Wilson posting the third fastest lap time for the vast majority of the event, it proved a very difficult place to pass at, and track position would hold down what was one of the fastest cars of the night.
“I was really happy with the car, and the whole team did a great job,” Wilson claimed after coming home 14th, “We were fast all day, but unfortunately we were bogged down in traffic most of the night. [On] the few laps I had in clean air, we could show our true potential, and it was really encouraging. It was the best the car has done on the ovals and we had really good pit-stops, which is encouraging for the future.”