Like a gentleman, Justin Wilson raced against a “demon” for his first Verizon IndyCar Series win in three years and the demon, Graham Rahal, won.
The part-time driver for Andretti Autosport finished second in the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio, his best result since finishing third at Houston in 2013.
Wilson’s last, best shot at Rahal came on a restart with eight laps remaining. Wilson’s No. 25 and Rahal’s No. 15 cars drag raced toward Turn 1 and Wilson utilized his last push-to-pass.
“I was pushing hard. I knew I had one push-to-pass left and Graham was out,” Wilson told NBCSN. “I knew he was going to take the inside, I had to go to the outside and then try to get ahead and brake as late as I could.”
But the push-to-pass wasn’t enough for the Englishman against the braking ability of Rahal, who was racing in front of his home crowd.
“Graham was demon on the brakes today and there was no way to beat him,” Wilson said. “He was a man possessed.”
Wilson was near Rahal through a few corners, but as a part-time driver during the season’s final five races, he wasn’t about to be the person to create a hazardous obstacle for Rahal’s championship hopes.
“I so wanted it, I was close to being able to pull ahead there. But I know Graham’s going for the championship and contact wasn’t an option,” Wilson said, later adding, “He braked so late. I can’t believe he actually made it stick. He can’t either.”
The race was Wilson’s fifth of 2015 for Andretti and he has two more left at Pocono and Sonoma as he drives to earn a permanent ride in 2016.
“It’s not going to hurt,” Wilson said of his finish. “It’s great to get a result here and we’re just building toward next year to see what happens. I have no idea at this point. We’re pushing hard, but it’s never easy.”