Justin Wilson and Dale Coyne Pull Off Upset Win at Watkins Glen IndyCar Race

IndyCar's Eternal Underdogs Finally Win

7/5/09 in IndyCar   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Dale Coyne Racing is far from a glamour team in the IndyCar Series. I’m guessing most of you have no idea who that team is. Ditto for his driver Justin Wilson. It’s understandable, as they usually aren’t at the front of the pack with the Penskes and Ganassis, the Helios and Dixons of the IndyCar world.

This Sunday however at Watkins Glen, two tales of perseverance combined for a well-deserved victory, as Wilson came out with a dominating win. It was his 2nd career IndyCar Series victory, and the first ever for Coyne after 25 years of racing.

Justin Wilson is known for being one of the nicest guys in the paddock, as well as his extreme height for an open wheel race, 6-foot-4. Like most young European drivers, Wilson hoped to make it to Formula One. While his results warranted an F1 ride, his height and a lack of funds made it difficult, the former keeping him from a late season drive in 2002. The next year though, his management came up with the idea of selling shares in Wilson for 500 pounds a share. This raised 1.2 million pounds, enough to get Wilson a ride with Minardi in 2003.

Unfortunately, Minardi did not have nearly enough cash to compete in F1, and as such Wilson’s chances were success were minimal. However, he did enough to get noticed by Jaguar, who signed Wilson to replace a struggling driver for the final five races. With Jaguar, Wilson would get his only World Championship point, an 8th at the US Grand Prix. However, Jaguar needed funds for 2004, which Wilson couldn’t provide, and so out he went.

The F1 door closed, Wilson headed state-side to Champ Car. He acquitted himself well, finishing 11th in the points as a rookie, followed by a 3rd and two 2nds the next three years. In four Champ Car years, Wilson won four times and finished on the podium 15 times. For this success, it looked like Wilson would finally get his big break. Sebastien Bourdais, who had won four straight Champ Car titles, was heading to F1, and his team, Newman/Haas/Lanigan, had hired Wilson to replace him. Thus, Wilson looked like the favorite for the 2008 championship, until fate interfered in the form of unification with the rival IndyCar Series.

Instead of being at the top of the heap, Wilson and N/H/L found themselves having to learn new cars and new tracks on the fly, all while up against long time well-funded IndyCar teams. Wilson in particular had to learn oval racing for the first time. While it was a struggle at first, things started to come together as the season went on, and the effort was rewarded with Wilson’s first career IndyCar Series victory at Detroit. It was the final win for the late Paul Newman.
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7/6/09   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

I finally found the number I was looking for. Coyne Racing had gone 558 races in three different series (CART, Champ Car, IndyCar) without a win. Amazing.

7/6/09   |   elevenbravo138again   |   1163 respect

100%InjuryRate wrote:
I need to say this more often, but great post Eric. Great, great story.

100% just took the words out of my mouth, solid!

7/6/09   |   100%InjuryRate   |   1283 respect

I need to say this more often, but great post Eric. Great, great story.

7/5/09   |   Debi_L   |   11862 respect

Trying to find recap on TSN, Rogers Sportsnet and Score channels - UGH I hate that IRL doesn't seem to exist for these sports channels

7/5/09   |   Debi_L   |   11862 respect

DAMN!!! I had my computer all set up to watch this race live, and couldn't do it.  What a great "feel good" story and a wonderful reminder of Paul Newman's last win.  Thanks Eric, for making my day