Justin Wilson finishes second at Mid-Ohio, best result in two years

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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.”

Indy Lights: Kyle Kirkwood joins Andretti Autosport

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One of the Road to Indy’s most talented young drivers will climb another step up the development system ladder this season.

Kyle Kirkwood, the 2019 Indy Pro 2000 champion, has signed a contract to race for Andretti Autosport in the 2020 Indy Lights season. Kirkwood will drive the No. 28 car for the reigning championship team.

A native of Jupiter, Florida, 21-year-old Kirkwood has been incredibly successful in junior formulas over the last few years. He won the F4 US Championship 2017 and won both the F3 Americas and USF2000 titles in 2018.

Driving for RP Motorsport Racing, Kirkwood won 9 of 16 races in his maiden Indy Pro 2000 season last year, allowing him to win his fourth championship in three years and earn the Road to Indy scholarship.

“We are very excited about the addition of Kyle to our Indy Lights program,” Andretti Autosport CEO and Chairman Michael Andretti said. “We’ve followed Kyle’s career from when he started in 2018 with the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship and have been impressed with his success in every race that led to his Indy Pro 2000 Championship last year. As a championship-caliber team, Kyle displays the desire and talent that we look for in our drivers and are excited to see him hit the track for the 2020 Indy Lights season.”

Kirkwood previously drove for Andretti in a two-day test session at Sebring International Raceway in December. He will make his official debut for the team in the season-opening doubleheader at St. Petersburg on March 14-15.

“I am ecstatic that I can now say I am competing in Indy Lights with Andretti Autosport this season,” Kirkwood said. “They have established a winning program in Indy Lights and we plan on carrying that reputation throughout 2020.

“We are a fantastic match for each other and our Sebring test in December proved that.”

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