Wilson knows drill

Crash Cameron, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:56 AM ET

EDMONTON - He came here as one of two.

And Justin Wilson is still one of two.

Only the Englishman and Canadian Paul Tracy have competed in the feature series at the Edmonton ChampCar and Indy events since the first one in 2005.

“It was great the first year. And it’s always fun to come back,” said Wilson, who also had a great third year here, winning it in 2007.

In 2005, Wilson teamed with A.J. Allmendinger with RuSport. After a second year with the since defunct team, he’s raced here with Newman/Haas, Dale Coyne and now Dreyer & Reinbold.

Though Wilson’s experience with the airport track certainly helps, switching teams is always difficult when it comes to findng the key to the magic kingdom — that being the right race set-up.

“You just keep digging away at it. Keep your head down and work on the weakest part of that car, whether it’s power down, whether it’s braking, it’s never an easy one,” said Wilson.

Breifly second

He had the D&R No. 22 car as high as second in Friday’s practice times, but was seventh at the end.

“Not quite where we want to be,” said Wilson. “We tried a lot of different things and we got a lot of information to study. From that, if we make some good changes overnight, we could be right there (Saturday). So I’m not too concerned right now, but we have got some work to do.”

Who says the life of  a race car driver is one big party? On race weekends in particular, it’s hitting the track then doing your homework.

“I wish!” laughed Wilson, dissing the party myth. “We spend as much time up there in the engineer’s office with the engineers and talking about the car. 

“You try lots of different things, try all your best ideas, and then some work, some don’t. Then you go away and study it, work out what is it the car is doing and why.”

“It’s not easy here on this track because it’s so bumpy. You’re getting bounced around, you’e got the G-forces ... The hardest thing is working out ‘what’s the cause and what’s an effect?’ Once you do that, then you’ve got to find an answer.”

Lots of homework

In other words, more homework.

“And there’s hundreds of things on these race cars that you can change.”

Not that Wilson would be hitting the clubs. Or the pubs. He’s had two children since he first came to Edmonton.

Wilson admits his butt’s still a little sore from kicking it himself after last weekend’s race in Toronto. Starting on the pole, he spun out late in the race while leading.

“Yes I am. It was a pretty frustrating day. But you’ve just got to learn from it and move on and start this weekend with a clean sheet of paper and try not to dwell on that.”

A key difference between the track there and here is you have tight walls facing you the whole race in Toronto. Edmonton’s airport has space to bail into the grass and get back on.

“On some corners,” said Wilson. “On some you can’t! It is a bit more forgiving for that, but once we rubber-in the racing line, the grip difference between that line and off-line is immense. Even though we’ve got plenty of room, you can still get to that wall. So you’re on a knife’s edge the whole way.”

david.cameron@sunmedia.ca


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