Star turn by James Davison in his second start for Coyne

Leave a comment

Late-season one-off opportunities provide a chance for new talent to emerge, and Australian James Davison did everything he could to maximize his chance in his second straight IZOD IndyCar Series start for Dale Coyne Racing.

Davison had an engine change prior to the race which dropped the No. 18 Sonny’s BBQ Honda from 21st to 25th and last on the grid.

But from there, by a mix of avoiding the carnage in front of him, some great passes and solid pit stops from the crew, Davison made it into the top 10 for most of the second half of the race, running as high as sixth or seventh.

Contact with old Indy Lights sparring partners Charlie Kimball, and later, Sebastian Saavedra, halted Davison’s chances of securing his first top-10 finish. He was classified an unrepresentative 18th by the checkered flag.

“Absolutely shattered. Drove my (expletive) off & pulled some mega lunges to come from 25th to 10th and got chopped with 2 laps to go. Way it goes..” Davison tweeted. “Thank you everyone for your messages, mean a lot. Not sure when my next race is but I’ll be back. @IndyCar is my home.”

It’s easy to forget but Davison finished second in the Indy Lights standings in 2009, behind only JR Hildebrand and ahead of more than half a dozen drivers who went onto make their IndyCar debuts before Davison did.

After a four-year layoff from open-wheel racing, these have been two highly impressive drives from “Davo” that should turn heads and make team owners aware of his ability level. Stefan Wilson takes over the No. 18 at Baltimore for his IndyCar debut, in what will be a newly liveried car with sponsorship from Nirvana Tea.

Teammates James Hinchcliffe and Robert Wickens earn top-fives at Barber

Leave a comment

For the first time this season, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports teammates James Hinchcilffe and Robert Wickens earned top-five finishes in the same race at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala.

Hinchcliffe finished third in the Grand Prix of Alabama; Wickens was one spot behind in fourth.

Wickens had one previous podium at Phoenix with his second-place finish. Hinchcliffe’s best result was a fourth in the season-opener in St Petersburg, Fla., so this marked his first podium of the year.

Both drivers needed a little help from the rain.

As precipitation began to fall in the closing stages of the race, Hinchliffe asked his team on a couple of occasions if it was wet enough to pit for rain tires. He was told twice to stay out and was then called into to the pits at the optimal time.

“Solid weekend for us after coming here before – not a great test,” Hinchcliffe said. “Two cars in the top 10 qualifying; two cars, top five in the race. Pretty proud of these boys, everybody on the Arrow car.”

The rain helped Wickens’ race strategy come together.

“I was having to save a lot of fuel in that second stint,” Wickens said. “So once (Scott) Dixon starting getting close to me I was thinking ‘Oh God, I’m going to actually have to give this one up.’ And then the rain came, so the fuel mileage happened naturally. So, yeah, it saved us a bit.”

And while both were pleased with their top-five finishes, drivers are rarely satisfied unless they are standing on the top step of the podium.

Wickens’ top-five finish was hard-fought. After winning the pole at St Petersburg and starting sixth at Phoenix, he failed to advance to the Fast 6 in back-to-back races at Long Beach and Barber – qualifying 10th both times.

“I was a little gutted that we came out in a big bunch of traffic,” Wickens continued. “It made the race fun, but a little frustrating as well because of people off sequence and whatnot. We lost a lot of track position there. Both of us could have been fighting for higher steps on the podium, but we need to do a little better job in qualifying. “