Justin Wilson’s absence felt on birthday, a year on from final podium

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LEXINGTON, Ohio – In a lot of ways, the result in today’s Honda Indy 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course spoke as a great testament to what Justin Wilson could have done had the incredibly popular Englishman still been here with the goal of ending one step higher on the podium than he did 12 months ago.

Sunday, July 31, would have been Wilson’s 38th birthday, and it also marked the near one-year-to-the-day anniversary of his final podium finish – when he came second to fellow Honda driver Graham Rahal last August 2.

Wilson’s final team, Andretti Autosport, graced the podium for the first time since Ryan Hunter-Reay came third in the second Detroit race in June, courtesy of Carlos Munoz in the No. 26 Honda.

Yet it was the team Wilson was inextricably linked with, Dale Coyne Racing, that had a greater impact on today’s race.

There was RC Enerson, a taller than normal rookie outperforming expectations on his debut weekend.

And then there was Conor Daly, the latest driver for Coyne using a typically brilliant Coyne strategy play to turn a last-place qualifying effort into 22 laps led and a sixth place finish.

Several members of the IndyCar community paid tribute to the gentle giant, frequently known as “Badass,” or as “J-Dub,” whose presence and absence was felt this weekend.

This isn’t an exhaustive list but gives a good number of tributes to the driver – and man – we all miss on a regular basis.