Perhaps one of the more surprising stat lines in the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series season is that Justin Wilson ranks 16th in points, with no podium finishes and only one top-five finish. This despite most of the paddock acknowledging Wilson is among the top five or six drivers in the series.
So Wilson has a bit of unfinished business this weekend at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., as he returns to the site where he broke his pelvis a year ago.
He entered this race fourth in points one year ago and the year-on-year drop has been stupefying to say the least. While both he and new engineer Michael Cannon are highly regarded, for whatever reason the No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda team has either missed the setup or missed the luck.
As Wilson told me in Milwaukee a couple weeks ago, “It’s been a long, tough season so far. We just have to keep doing the same thing, the right thing, and we believe we’re on the right track. Hopefully it’ll work out.
“There’s been races where you’ve needed pure speed and others where you need luck. Unfortunately we’ve been fast on the races you need luck, and slow on the ones where we need pure speed!”
For Fontana, more of a driver’s track now given the way the track has evolved with the bumps and the need to pace yourself over 500 miles, it’s still a very challenging track. Wilson explained it in his pre-race release:
“It’s a very tough track, because you are right on the edge at 220 miles an hour,” he said. “There is a lot to deal with, with the speeds and the surface. The (pavement) seams can really catch you out. Even getting a bit of a side draft can make a big difference, like it did to me last year.”
Given his talent, it would be a welcome return if Wilson, who’s gotten so much better on ovals the last few years, could end the 2014 season on a high note.