Wilson Debuts At Mid-Ohio
July 18, 2008 | 12:30 P.M. EST
Justin Wilson is looking forward to a return to road course racing this weekend when he makes his debut on the 2.258 mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, his 10th new track of the season. It will be the team's first trip to Mid-Ohio as Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing, but as Newman/Haas Racing it raced here as recently as 2003. On their 21 previous visits to the track, the team won three events and took six poles and 11 podiums.
"I drove the Mid-Ohio course on video games years ago and watched last year's race on DVD," said Justin. "From what I've seen it's a fantastic track, a bit like a roller coaster ride with off-camber corners and a lot of elevation changes. It looks physically demanding, but that's what I enjoy and I'm looking forward to it."
After qualifying first (Long Beach), second (Watkins Glen) and third (St. Pete), Justin hopes to challenge for pole position at Mid-Ohio and become the eighth different driver to win in the IndyCar Series this season.
"It would be great for the McDonald's team to pick up our first win," added Justin. "We've been very competitive on the road circuits this year, and I don't see why that can't continue. We've got to make sure we do everything right, but if we do that we'll have a chance."
The Mid-Ohio race will be followed less than a week later by a trip to Edmonton, scene of Justin's 2006 victory and one of his favorite tracks.
"Having two road races in a row is going to be good for the team," said Justin. "But it's still a tough schedule and the team is working flat-out to keep up. Even though the cars will stay in the same configuration between Mid-Ohio and Edmonton, there is still quite a lot of work to be done between the two events.
The travel time alone to get the equipment from Ohio on Sunday night to Edmonton by Wednesday morning is a factor and that doesn't include the two days needed to prepare the cars for the next race. It's a big challenge, but we're looking forward to these next two races and hopefully we'll come away from them with two great results."
Twelve of the entrants in Sunday's Honda Indy 200 raced in last year's Mid-Ohio event. Three of those twelve led laps. Castroneves led the way with 37 laps, followed by Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan, with 29 and 13 laps respectively.
Seven drivers have competed in CART races at the 2.258-mile road course - Castroneves, Dixon, Mario Dominguez, Kanaan, Drren Manning, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Oriol Servia.
Scott Dixon won last year's event, while Helio Castroneves took the PEAK Motor Oil Pole Award.
Practice sessions at Mid-Ohio begin Friday at 10:40 a.m. - 12:10 p.m. (ET) and 3:10 p.m. - 4:10 p.m.
A second series of practices will take place on Saturday morning from 8:45 - 9:45
IndyCar qualifying has gotten a bit more dramatic on road and street courses with the changes that took place at the beginning of the 2008 season. Instead of single-cars, drivers are now grouped with another team, who each have 20 minutes of qualifying time. The top six from each group advance to a second round. From there, the six fastest qualifing groups advance to the Firestone Fast Six, where the PEAK Motor Oil Pole Award winner is determined.
Qualifying is set to take place Saturday starting at 11:45 a.m. (ET), ending at 1:15 p.m.
The 85-lap Honda Indy 200 starts on Sunday, July 20 at 1:30 p.m. (ET) with live coverage on ABC. For UK viewers, Sky Sports 3 has live coverage from 6.30 p.m. BST. It will also be broadcast live on IMS Radio Network and XM Radio Channels 144 and 145.