Birmingham, Ala. (27 April 2014) – In a day that saw a little bit of everything, Dale Coyne Racing driver Justin Wilson delivered a top-10 finish at Barber Motorsports Park in the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama on Sunday with a sixth place finish after fighting through a tricky mix of wet and dry track conditions with the No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda. Wilson started deep in the pack before picking up 10 positions through the drama-filled event to take his best result of the 2014 Verizon IndyCar season to date.
The start of the race was delayed by nearly 2.5-hours when heavy thunderstorms moved through the area prior to the green flag. With the track surface still very wet, Verizon IndyCar officials announced that the event would be shortened to a 1 hour and 40 minute race and declared a wet start which saw all 23 drivers begin the race on Firestone rain tires.
Despite reporting to his Dale Coyne Racing team that he could “not see a thing” through the opening stages of the race, Wilson improved four spots on the first lap to take over the 12th position. As the track began to slightly dry out, Wilson was called to pit lane on lap 21 during the second full course caution to take on dry Firestone Red tires and fuel. Unfortunately, another car mistakenly stopped in the Dale Coyne Racing pit box, forcing Wilson to stop and wait several precious seconds before being able to enter his pit.
Following the pit stop, Wilson returned to the field 13th in the order and worked his way up into the top-10 as the race continued through a mix of yellow and green flag conditions. Having progressed up into the top-eight, the lead cars began making their second pit stops as a long fuel run saw Wilson move to the race lead.
Dale Coyne Racing engineer Michael Cannon called Wilson to pit road on Lap 52 under green flag conditions for fuel and Firestone red tires. A perfect stop saw Wilson emerge sixth in line.
Wilson, who set his quickest lap of the race on Lap 55, clicked off clean and quick lap times through a longer green flag run as he pursued the top-five. Just after Cannon had reminded Wilson that he had eight ‘push-to-pass’ options left while the cars running ahead of him had zero, the race went under full course caution. The race finished under the yellow and Wilson was unable to use that to his advantage in the final laps.
“You couldn’t see a thing,” said Wilson of the tricky opening race conditions. “You were getting on the brakes on the straight because you couldn’t see where you were going and you were hoping the guys behind you were in the same boat and fortunately they were. The spray would die down just enough and you’d accelerate again. No one could see a thing. It was an interesting race. We had a car stop in our pit box and the Dale Coyne Racing guys dealt with it great. We lost a couple of positions because of that but we stayed focused and all in all it was not a bad day considering I started 16th and we were up to sixth. I’m pleased with it. I think this was a good day but obviously, we’re already thinking about the next one.”
The Verizon IndyCar Series next travels to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course for the inaugural running of the Grand Prix of Indianapolis on May 10.