Justin Wilson met with members of the media at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Below is a transcript of his interview followed by “Five Questions with Justin Wilson.” Wilson is testing with Dale Coyne Racing after completing his rookie season in the IndyCar Series in 2008 with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing, earning a victory at Belle Isle.
Q: How do you feel moving to Dale Coyne Racing?
JUSTIN WILSON: I’m looking forward to the new season. We’ve not officially signed a contract yet, but I’m looking forward to getting out there and showing what I can do. It’s a long, hard road ahead. We’ve got lots to learn, new engineer for me. It’s just a lot of things to work on, whereas a lot of the others teams are further ahead. It’s just the way it is, and we’ll keep our heads down, keep working on it and get faster. Hopefully on the road courses we can get close to the front, and we’ll see where that takes us. The best thing about Dale Coyne Racing is Dale’s a racer. He understands it all, and that’s a big asset in this kind of racing.
Q: How did the opportunity come about?
JUSTIN WILSON: (Dale) called me about 10 days ago. We chatted on and off prior to that, and he called me up and said he wanted to move ahead, so that’s when we progressed things. I went over to the workshop and got fitted for the car, and here we are.
Q: How is the process of securing a ride?
JUSTIN WILSON: There’s a lot of uncertainty. The whole offseason was a bit of a lot of ups and downs, times when you think, ‘O.K., we’re set and ready to go,’ and then it was all off. That happened a few times. It’s just how it is. You can’t get too excited until you’re in the car.
Q: Is it a bit frustrating, given your success in Champ Car and winning a race in the IndyCar Series last year to have to be out looking for a new ride?
JUSTIN WILSON: I thought we made a progress last year. We got a win at Detroit, we were getting stronger at all of the other tracks. It was a such a learning year. I thought the stuff we were doing that year, the stuff we would be doing in the offseason we should be right at the front and challenging for wins every weekend come this season. Obviously, we don’t have that opportunity now. Before that, we finished in the top three in Champ Car the last three years – if you look back on it, you think well we’ve been hard done to, but it’s just how it is. If you live in the past, you won’t go forward. So, we’ve got to start with a fresh sheet of paper. That’s what we did yesterday. We’re starting completely fresh, and just working it out for ourselves and moving forward.
Q: Assuming you race for Dale Coyne Racing, where do you set your goals and expectations for 2009?
JUSTIN WILSON: It’s just to keep progressing. It’s going to be a tough year, but hopefully we can get stronger and be competitive on the road circuits. On the ovals, it will be just like last year where we slowly got better and better. I’d like to get a couple more top-five finishes. You just never know. If we can take another victory, that would be a fantastic result for us. Right now it’s just keep our heads down, keep progressing, and if we do that we’ll be happy.
Q: What’s your outlook for Dale Coyne Racing for this season?
JUSTIN WILSON: It’s the very early stages. Bill Pappas is the engineer. He’s very good, lots of experience, and Dale is set on getting out there and being competitive. We’ve had a couple of days together so far. It’s all very, very new. As thing settle in and we start to work it out and everything starts to get, I think we’ll get more and more competitive. The road courses are what I know. We’ll work on the ovals. I’m confident we’ll get more competitive. My aim is to win a race, but there’s just a lot of work to be done. We’re not afraid of that.
Q: Who are the guys to beat week in and week out?
JUSTIN WILSON: The usual suspects really. I think the two Ganassi cars are going to be really fast. There the two, the Penske cars. I think it will be between those for the championship. Everyone else looks so close. It’s going to be a lot of interesting or repetitive comments on how, ‘I just missed out.’ I think everyone is going to say that apart from the one or two, because that middle bunch from fourth or fifth back to about 19th is all so close. It will not take much to be at one end or the other.
Q: Do you know if there are plans for Dale to run a second car?
JUSTIN WILSON: I think he’d like to, but I don’t know what his plans are or what he’s thinking. It’s helpful to be two cars. You can learn faster and you can use each other, so it’s always good. But, if you can’t do that right, it’s better to be car and focused and go out there and do the right job.
Q: Can you bring over some of what you’ve learned from last year?
JUSTIN WILSON: There’s bits that I remember and bring over. There’s so much to take in you can’t remember enough of the details, and that’s what this series is about is all in the details. You can remember springs or whatever but without some of the finer detail stuff it’s worthless. That’s kind of what we were doing yesterday was just working on the basics. We’ve got to learn the basics and get them just right so we can start to deal with the details later on. That’s where we got to last year. We did all that basic stuff and were working on all that fine tuning. There’s time in all that fine tuning, but you’ve got to put the foundation in first. That’s what we’re aiming to do right now.
Five questions with Justin Wilson:
1. What’s the best part about being a dad?
Definitely the best part is watching your child learn and work things out. I’m really fortunate to have a 10-month old daughter. She’s a lot of fun, and every day she does something new and makes you laugh and smile. It’s just a great feeling.
2. What’s the No. 1 thing on your bucket list?
Part of me wants to go skydiving, but the other part of me says that’s stupid, so maybe skydiving at some point in my life.
3. What’s your worst habit?
Biting my nails. I don’t know why I do it. I think I was about four years old and was watching my dad sit at home biting his nails, and I thought I’d give it a try, and I haven’t stopped since. It drives me crazy. I just can’t stop.
4. Fastest thing you’ve been in besides a race car, and how fast?
I guess it’s a passenger airliner. We take them every weekend. On the road, I have no idea. Obviously, you don’t go above 75 mph in Colorado – it’s the law.
5. Which celebrity did you have a crush on as a teenager?
That’s going back a while. That’s OK when you’re asking someone like Graham (Rahal), who’s 20. I have no idea.
The 2009 IndyCar Series season opens April 5 with the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. The race will be telecast live at 2 p.m. (EDT) by VERSUS. The 2009 Firestone Indy Lights season begins with a doubleheader race weekend April 4-5 at St. Petersburg.