Justin Wilson looks for first Barber podium and rebound post-Long Beach

Leave a comment

There aren’t too many “bogey tracks” on the Verizon IndyCar Series for Justin Wilson, but Barber Motorsports Park has been one of them.

Wilson hasn’t yet been at the front of the field at this circuit, and is yet to improve on his best finish set in the first Barber race of seventh in 2010. Contact took him out in 2011; in his first time at the track with Dale Coyne Racing in 2012, the team struggled on setup and started and finished 19th; a year ago, Wilson started and finished eighth.

In total, four starts have netted an average start of 10.8 and average finish of 13.3.

Armed with better pace from testing – Wilson ended second in the series’ official preseason test, only 0.0038 of a second off pace setter Will Power – and the motivation of wanting to bounce back from getting hit like a piñata at Long Beach (he was hit by both Graham Rahal and Scott Dixon), Wilson should be considered a podium contender this weekend in the No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda.

“I’m looking forward to Barber, we had a very good test there,” Wilson said in a pre-race release. “The car is working well and I’m looking forward to going back. Barber is always a fantastic race. It seems like it’s impossible to overtake there, but in the race as the tires start to wear out – we abuse them because of the high G-forces – there is a lot of movement and usually makes for an exciting and interesting race.”

Wilson’s last podium finish came on the series’ most recent road course event, Sonoma last August, where he finished a 2013 season-best second.

NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra will have coverage of Sunday’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama starting at 1:30 p.m. ET.

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry.

The idea of Hamilton attending the season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it only would be fitting if Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — spent some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).