After a year with Newman/Haas/Lanigan, Justin Wilson will drive for Dale Coyne’s longtime spear-carrying team in this year’s IRL Indy car series. Lack of sponsorship meant Wilson lost his ride with Newman/Haas/Lanigan at the end of last season. Justin has been searching for work all winter and Dale Coyne has decided to throw the 30-year old Brit a lifeline. Wilson will test one of Coyne’s Dallara-Hondas during this week’s two-day IRL ‘Spring Training’ at the Homestead-Miami Speedway and hopes to sign a contract with Coyne either today or tomorrow before the test begins.
“We’re working towards moving forward but we haven’t signed a contract yet,” Justin said on Sunday. “It’s not official, but hopefully we can finalise things before the test. But we’re going out there with the idea of moving forward together. I’m looking forward to it.
“It’s not reliant on sponsorship,” Wilson added. “Dale’s working on some things and if they happened it would allow us to do even more.”
Coyne (above) recently hired Bill Pappas (below) to be his chief engineer. Pappas has a wealth of Indy car experience with a variety of teams including Jim Hall, Derrick Walker, Chip Ganassi’s teams and Panther Racing. Pappas spent last season in NASCAR with Michael Waltrip’s team but has decided to return to Indy car racing with Coyne’s small team.
“I like what Dale is doing with the team and I’m really impressed with Bill Pappas,” Wilson commented. “Bill is what you need to get organised in this series and make the most of it. Dale is committed to it and to going out there and proving what he, Bill and I are capable of doing.”
Bruno Junqueira (below with Coyne) – also an ex-Newman/Haas driver – drove for Coyne’s little team last year and Junqueira probably will continue with the team although the Brazilian has not yet reached an agreement with Coyne.
“Bruno is obviously one of Dale’s options and I would like that,” Justin said. “I think it’s likely Bruno will be there – he’s a good guy and good driver. Dale wants two good drivers and I think myself and Bruno would work well together.”
Coyne’s operation will be the fifth team Wilson has driven for in what will be his sixth year racing in America in either Champ Car or the IRL. Coyne’s team may be a backfield outfit, but Junquiera has shown it’s possible to get some reasonable results with it. Justin deserves better but the rocky world of Indy car racing has dealt him a difficult hand. Maybe the underdog role will play to Wilson’s strengths as both a test driver and racer.