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Justin Wilson back in action at Daytona

British race driver Justin Wilson is finally back in action again this weekend, almost five months after sustaining back injuries during the 2011 IndyCar season.
Justin Wilson was enjoying being back in pit lane and behind the wheel of a race car again, after signing up for this year's Rolex 24 at Daytona with Michael Shank Racing.

“It's great to be back,” said Wilson, who was right on the pace on just his second lap back behind the wheel of the #60 MSR Daytona Ford-Riley in practice on Friday. "I did a couple of laps this morning in the car which was my first time in the new Riley and it felt great so I'm cautiously optimistic about what we can do. Hopefully it's going to play out well for us."

Wilson was sidelined for the last five months and missed most of the latter half of the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series championship after sustaining back injuries during practice at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in August, but has now been declared fully recovered and race fit after his long lay-off.

Wilson is sharing the car with its regular series drivers Ozz Negri and John Pew (a two-time Pro-Am Champion) together with a fellow event 'guest star' in the form of NASCAR Sprint Cup driver and former Champ Cars driver AJ Allmendinger. It is Wilson's fifth Rolex start and his fourth with MSR Daytona, and he has been runner-up twice - including 2006 with MSR, Negri and Allmendinger along with Mark Patterson.

"It's great to team up with John, Ozz, and AJ. It's a good group and I really think we have a good chance to win," said Wilson. "Mike always does such a great job with his team and it's a privilege to be a part of it," he added. "I think we just need to keep working hard, keep our heads down and see what happens."

“I couldn't be happier to get Justin and AJ back for the 24 this year,” said team owner Mike Shank, who announced last year that he is also planning on running an entry in the IZOD IndyCar Series in 2012. "We know that it takes speed, smarts, and experience to get to the podium here and having guys like Justin and AJ on board for the 24 is a big advantage. They are team players, and everyone is really focused on a big result."

The team is currently undergoing a three-day practice and set-up preparation at Daytona International Speedway, which concludes on Sunday. The Rolex 24 At Daytona race itself is on January 28-29.

While tweeting some light-hearted banter from pit lane at Daytona, Wilson also admitted that "I was laying low after [Thursday's] rumour, hope to have more about that soon" - referring to a news story broken by the SPEED US motorsport cable channel that Wilson had signed a deal to move to Dale Coyne Racing in the 2012 IndyCar season.

Wilson drove for Dale Coyne Racing in 2009 and managed to win the team their maiden series victory in 25 years of competition, finding victory lane at Watkins Glen. He also finished on the podium at Long Beach and led for 28 laps at Mid-Ohio with the team that year, but contract extension negotiations broke down and Wilson opted for a two-year deal at Dreyer & Reinbold in 2010-2011.

SPEED reported that accompanying Wilson to Dale Coyne Racing would be engineer Bill Pappas and possibly veteran engineer John Dick, and that the team would also announce a deal with Honda for engines. However, the story has not yet been confirmed by either Wilson or the team since it was initially reported.

It had previously been reported that former Champ Car and F1 driver Sebastien Bourdais might be tempted to return to IndyCar full-time in 2012, after running a road course-only campaign last year. The team had also seemed to indicate that it would continue with another Briton, James Jakes, as its second driver.



Related Pictures

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AJ Allmendinger speaking at Richmond. [Photo Credit: Tom Whitmore/Harrelson Photography]
Former racing driver, now the newest IndyCar team owner Michael Shank announces his team`s 2012 entry with Lotus power at Las Vegas Motor Speedway ahead of the 2011 season finale. [Picture credit: Bret Kelley for IndyCar Media]
Brian Vickers skydives in to Daytona International Speedway from 5000 feet to publicise the forthcoming Coke Zero 400 on July 2. Wednesday, June 1 2011. [Photo credit: Red Bull/Daytona International Speedway]
Daytona International Speedway - panorama. [Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images]
Justin Wilson prepares for qualifying on the streets of Toronto. July 2011. [Picture credit: Jim Haines for IndyCar Media]
Justin Wilson suited up onPole Day for the 2011 Indy 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday, May 21. [Picture credit: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media]
Justin Wilson, Dreyer & Reinbold driver of the #22 car in 2011
Sebastien Bourdais with his son after winning Race 1 of the Honda Indy Toronto. (Photo by: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media)
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Sebastien Bourdais gets a congratulatory hug from team co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven after winning Race 1 of the Honda Indy Toronto (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
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Mike Conway, driver of the #20 Fuzzy`s Ultra Premium Vodka / Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory Sunday, July 20, 2014 during the second of two IndyCar Series races through the streets of Exhibition Place, in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Mike Conway, driver of the #20 Fuzzy`s Ultra Premium Vodka / Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, takes the chequered flag while racing to victory Sunday, July 20, 2014 during the second of two IndyCar Series races through the streets of Exhibition Place, in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Mike Conway, driver of the #20 Fuzzy`s Ultra Premium Vodka / Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to victory Sunday, July 20, 2014 during the second of two IndyCar Series races through the streets of Exhibition Place, in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Mike Conway on his way to victory in the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway jumps for joy after the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway with the winner`s flag after the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)

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