IndyCar 2015 Driver Review: Justin Wilson

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There’s no easy way to come to the next driver recap in this Verizon IndyCar Series run through the field. We’ve remembered Justin Wilson since his fatal accident in various ways, through tributes, through various posts on the auction going on to support the Wilson Children’s Fund and on the memorial service itself. Here, we take a look back purely on the races he drove in this year, and how his competitive impact pushed Andretti Autosport forward in the few races he competed in.

Justin Wilson, No. 25 Andretti Autosport Honda

  • 2014: 15th Place, Best Finish 4th, Best Start 6th, 1 Top-5, 7 Top-10, 25 Laps Led, 13.1 Avg. Start, 12.4 Avg. Finish
  • 2015: 24th Place (6 Starts), Best Finish 2nd, Best Start 6th, 1 Podium, 1 Top-5, 1 Top-10, 11 Laps Led, 13.0 Avg. Start, 16.2 Avg. Finish

The running joke Justin and I had throughout this year was about his roller coaster ride of a 2015 season, where he was always still smiling, but without ever having anything solid. Sadly, tragically, when things finally started to be looking up for him to conclude the year and into 2016, we received the news he had succumbed to his severe head injury sustained at Pocono.

Left without a full-time ride when the season started, Wilson still had an assortment of opportunities throughout the year that were as scattered and varied as the English weather over the course of a week – ranging from IndyCar to Formula E, Pikes Peak to Sebring. Sometimes, he even got to race, as a myriad of off-the-wall issues seemed to pop up for the cars he was scheduled to drive.

In IndyCar terms, Wilson finally got a deal sorted with Andretti Autosport at St. Petersburg for the month of May only, with Honda support. Potential top-10s went begging first for a mechanical issue and then a fuel gamble that came up wrong in the two races. Still, his sixth place qualifying effort at the Indianapolis 500 was one of the best performances of the season, not just for him, but for Honda and Andretti on the whole.

In his final four races, Wilson was almost trapped in a de facto “guinea pig” and/or R&D role for both the team and for Honda with its at times-troublesome aero kit. It meant his talent didn’t get to shine through, but second at Mid-Ohio was a well-deserved result.

Ever the optimist, Wilson always carried on with his usual friendly, polite and insightful demeanor at all times. The fact we’re writing about him in the past tense stings greatly, and will not be something that fully sinks in for a while.

Todd LeDuc advances two positions in Monster Jam Power Rankings

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Neil Elliott held onto the top spot in the Monster Jam Power Rankings, but he has a new driver sniffing his exhaust as Todd Leduc advanced two positions to second this week.

The Stadium Series Green continues to hold the advantage in the Power Rankings with Elliott topping the chart, Morgan Kane in fourth, and Ryan Anderson eighth, but there is an equitable distribution among the other series throughout the field.

Notably, Leduc and his Monster Energy truck in the Stadium Series Red closed the gap with a 38-point overall victory at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, MN. Leduc achieved his win through consistency, pocketing the overall without winning a single individual event. Leduc’s best session was a second-place finish to Mike Vaters II in Overkill Evolution by .001 points.

Meanwhile on the West Coast, Elliott rambled on. Elliott won his sixth skills challenge in seven contests so far. That contributed to his 35 points for the event at PETCO Park in San Diego and allowed him to hold onto the No. 1 slot in the Monster Jam Power Rankings.

Colton Eichelberger also held station. Third last week, he entered the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on a mission in the Triple Threat Series Central. He topped the event points in all four events with timed race wins in each session, ATV race wins in three of the four, three wins in the speedster obstacle course, two freestyle wins and one win in the donut competitions.

MORE: Ryan Anderson and the anatomy of a Monster Jam freestyle run

Morgan Kane and Grave Digger had a rough night. He was ousted from the racing event in Round 2 by Max-D and Elliott. He failed to win either of the other two competitions of the night and ended with 29 points, which was a distant third to Ryan Anderson’s Son-Uva Digger (37) and Max-D (35).

Brandon Vinson moved up to the fifth position with three wins in the Triple Threat Series West. During the weekend he earned seven session wins, including a sweep of the speedster obstacle course and two victories in the two-wheel skills challenge.

Tom Meents debuted on the Monster Jam Power Rankings in 10th by winning the overall in back to back nights of the Stadium Series Yellow. The Saturday show can be seen Feb. 22 at 11:30 p.m. on NBCSN (click here for streaming). The highlight of Meents’ weekend were race wins on Saturday and Sunday, defeating Coty Saucier in a Monster Energy truck on Night 1 and Eric Swanson in Obsessed on Night 2.

Power Rankings

1. Neil Elliott–same
2. Todd LeDuc–up 2
3. Colton Eichelberger-same
4. Morgan Kane–down 2
5. Brandon Vinson–up 1
6. Tyler Menninga–up 1
7. Coty Saucier–down 2
8. Ryan Anderson–same
9. Linsey Read–up 1
10. Tom Meents-new for 2020

Upcoming TV Schedule (All showings on Eastern time on NBCSN)

Oakland: February 22 (Saturday); 11:30 p.m.
Miami: March 1 (Sunday); 12 a.m.
Jacksonville: March 9 (Monday); 6 p.m.
Detroit: March 21 (Saturday); 11 p.m.
Las Vegas: March 28 (Saturday); 7 p.m.
Santa Clara: April 11 (Saturday); 7 p.m.
Philadelphia: April 17 (Friday); 2:30 p.m.
Denver: April 25 (Saturday); 6:30 p.m.
Monster Jam World Finals Racing: May 9 (Saturday); 5 p.m.
Monster Jam World Finals: May 19 (Tuesday); 4 p.m.
Monster Jam World Freestyle: May 20 (Wednesday); 12 a.m.
Monster Jam World Finals: June 20 (Saturday); 2:30 p.m.