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IndyCar Season Preview: Justin Wilson

Photo credit: Ned Leone

#18 Sonny’s Real Pit Bar-B-Q Dallara-Honda, Dale Coyne Racing

Born: July 31, 1978

Hometown: Rotherham, South Yorkshire, England

2011 HIGHLIGHTS: In his second season with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, Wilson scored four top-10 finishes, with a best finish of fifth at Edmonton. He also made Firestone Fast Six appearances in the first three races of the season.

2011 LOWLIGHTS: Wilson fractured a bone in his back during an accident at Mid-Ohio that cut short his season through only 11 rounds. He also dealt with a frustrating lack of performance, even on the road and street courses that are his hallmark. He finished 24th in points.

SEASON OUTLOOK: Wilson has more than enough motivation to turn things around in 2012 after a forgettable 2011. Now that he’s reunited with Dale Coyne Racing and engineer Bill Pappas, a combination that took Coyne’s maiden race win at Watkins Glen in 2009, he’s got the support around him to do it. One of Wilson’s chief concerns at Dreyer & Reinbold was Larry Curry’s engineering, and even dumping the longtime IndyCar mechanic wasn’t enough to bring Wilson back.

With road and street course talent at a premium this season, plus the wide-open field that comes with three different engine suppliers, this may be Wilson’s best chance to run for an IndyCar title. While that projection may be too optimistic, a top 10 finish in points certainly isn’t. The amount of talent that Coyne has amassed for his flagship car should be more than enough to challenge some of the sport’s best drivers.

– Chris Leone

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