DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Starting sixth in the 51st Rolex 24 At Daytona doesn’t concern Justin Wilson, who’ll co-drive the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Daytona Prototype this weekend.
“You could start last as long as you have good race balance,” the veteran IZOD IndyCar Series driver said.
The Grand-Am team, of which Wilson has been a part of for this event since 2006, displayed that balance – and much more -- a year ago in winning the race on the 3.56-mile, 12-turn circuit at Daytona International Speedway.
“It was great to get the win last year. It meant a lot to everyone on the team for it to all come together,” Wilson said. “To win the Daytona 24 hours is pretty special, and to win it on the 50th was even better. We have the same package as last year; the only slight change is we have Marcos Ambrose this year (supplementing the lineup of Wilson, AJ Allmendinger, John Pew and Oswaldo Negri, who is recovery from a leg injury). Getting the car just right so you can manage it for 24 hours is what it’s all about.”
The victory also kick-started his IZOD IndyCar Series season with Dale Coyne Racing, in which he posted a victory in June on the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway oval.
“You go into the season and you’ve already won a race. To drivers, winning is what it’s all about. If you’re not winning you’re questioning and second-guessing yourself, so you’re always analyzing everything you do,” he said. “To go in knowing you’ve already won a race you say, ‘I know I can do this; I’ve done it last month.’ That helps a lot.”
Having 15 races and a few test days with the new Dallara chassis-Honda engine package also helps in preparation for the 19-race season that commences with the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 24-26.
“If everything comes together like we want it to with the team we’ll be in good shape,” said Wilson, who after this race will seek to firm up his contract for 2013. “Our aim is to win more races, get consistent. We had a really good test in December and learned more things with the car. We’ve done two tests on different types of tracks (Sebring and Barber) and the same changes had the same results, which is a big step forward in this new car. We’ve evolved to a good baseline setting that hopefully will be easier to work from.”