IZOD IndyCar Series drivers review their seasons. Today, Justin Wilson weighs in.
2012 got off to a great start when I won the 50th Anniversary Rolex 24 At Daytona, driving for Michael Shank Racing with AJ Allmendinger, Ozz Negri and John Pew. I’d just recovered from the back injury I’d got the season before in Mid-Ohio, so it was a fantastic way to start the year.
It was good to be back with Dale and Gail Coyne again in the IZOD IndyCar Series and the aim was to pick up where we left off at the end of ‘09. I had Bill Pappas back as my engineer on the No. 18 Sonny’s Bar-B-Q Honda and he was joined by John Dick with James Jakes in the No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda. So it was a good core group and we had our new Honda-powered Dallara DW12 to try to get our heads around.
With all of the other teams figuring out the new car too, we hoped that we would have the consistency needed to fight for podiums and wins throughout the season.
Overall, it was not the season we wanted. There were some difficult times and we didn’t really achieve the results I think we were capable of getting. We had fuel problems in St. Pete, a fire in Barber, a ballast infringement in Brazil and assorted engine and pit stop problems along the way. But we had some good moments, too. In Long Beach, the car was really good in the race. We led for quite a few laps and I felt we could fight for the win, but unfortunately we missed on our fuel strategy.
At Indy, we were pretty quick and had worked our way through to the front, but we got jumped on that last restart that really hurt us. If there hadn’t been all those yellows at the end in Indy I think we would have been in really good shape. I’m looking forward to getting back there and building on that next year.
Texas was obviously the highlight of our season. I took a lot of confidence from that one, knowing that we have what it takes to win on ovals. The car was fantastic, especially on the longer runs. The Sonny’s Bar-B-Q Honda was just loose enough to help me turn through the middle and we were very good at looking after the tires and not sliding around too much and saving them for the end of the stint. We actually found that was the case on most of the ovals this year.
The way the car has worked on used tires and the way my driving style has helped us to look after them definitely was one of our strongest points this year and it’s meant we were able to hang in there on long runs better than some of the other teams. That’s definitely been one of our strongest points this year.
So there have been some good things to take away from this year and there’s a lot that we can build on and a lot to learn from. Now, in this off-season, is the time to do that. We want to come back next season and be strong everywhere. I think we have the potential to do that; we’ve just got to work hard at it and turn it into reality.
Season at a glance
Average start: 14.1
Average finish 14.9
Best qualifying: Second (Milwaukee)
Best finish: First (Texas Motor Speedway)
Recorded six top-10 finishes and led two races for total of 26 laps. ... Finished 15th in championship standings. ... Started 17th in victory at Texas.