The story has been largely the same since IndyCar and Champ Car merged for Justin Wilson.
The lanky, talented, cordial Englishman has long carried the talent worthy of a top seat in the Verizon IndyCar Series at Team Penske, Chip Ganassi Racing or Andretti Autosport, but for timing or a lack of funding never had the true opportunity.
So this November, the story remains the same. For now, anyway. Wilson is not yet sure where he’ll be on the IndyCar grid in 2015.
The preparation is full on for another season though, which would be his 12th since coming ashore in 2004, then starting out with Conquest Racing.
And the desire to get in a cockpit, now, is instant. IndyCar’s lengthy August-to-March offseason has Wilson itching to get back behind the wheel.
“It’s a much longer offseason,” he told MotorSportsTalk from New Orleans over the weekend. “I feel like I’m ready to get back in the car. It’s been a long time already, but it’s just November.”
Wilson was in New Orleans as one of two IndyCar drivers (Will Power) helping promote the new Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana, the Andretti Sports Marketing-promoted event.
The hope most IndyCar observers have this offseason is that Wilson, who’s spent the last six years combined between Dale Coyne Racing (the last three from 2012 to 2014, plus 2009) and Dreyer & Reinbold Racing (2010-2011), can finally make the jump into the vacant fourth seat at Andretti Autosport.
As ever, putting the various financial pieces together to make it happen is the holdup. For Wilson, it puts him in the position of not knowing when a deal could happen.
“I just don’t know what’s going to happen at the minute,” Wilson admitted. “I’m exploring options. Dale’s a great guy, and the team has made some nice improvements. But I have to see what’s best for my future and what works for me. It’s one of those things, where I could find out tomorrow, or it could be in another month or two months.”
Assuming he is on the grid, Wilson would undoubtedly be one of the drivers who could best develop the new aero kits coming to the cars for 2015. Figure his setup expertise would likely pay huge dividends in extracting the maximum out of the kits.
The schedule sets up favorably for him as well. Ending at Sonoma should be a benefit, he said.
“I like the look of the 2015 schedule. Finishing in Sonoma should really boost that event,” he said. “You get to spend an extra day or two in that region. Everyone has always said what a great place it is to go, but as a driver you didn’t experience any of that. From a personal point of view, I like the look of it. We’ll see how it feels.”
Wilson is unsure whether he’ll be in his traditional endurance race role with Michael Shank Racing, the team that now switches to a Ligier JS P2 coupe from Sebring but is expected to continue with its Daytona Prototype at Daytona.
For now, he just wants to put a challenging 2014 behind him and get something sorted, and ideally sooner rather than later so he can enjoy the rest of the offseason with his family before getting back behind the wheel.
“I look back on it, and it was a tough year,” he said of 2014. “We didn’t make a lot of progress. We learned a lot in the last two races that could have helped for the season. We weren’t far behind, but we never found what we were looking for.
“There was more potential there, but we didn’t realize it. With the competition as tight as it, that’s how it goes. It’s a very tight, tough series… you can’t afford to take too long to catch up. But when you do well, it makes it that much better.”