Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda at the Streets of Long Beach for Coyne
April 13, 2014
Long Beach, California - The Verizon IndyCar Series moved westward this weekend for the 40th Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Dale Coyne Racing’s Justin Wilson was excited to return after his podium finish at last year’s race. IndyCar rookie Carlos Huertas was once again tasked with learning a new circuit quickly as temporary street circuits allow for little practice before race weekend. It could have been a spectacular finish.
A veteran of the 1.968-mile, 12-turn circuit, Justin Wilson ran some quick laps in all three practice sessions which made him optimistic heading into qualifying. Wilson advanced out of round one but failed to qualify for the Firestone Fast Six after making the slightest of mistakes on his final lap of qualifying. He was working a lap time that would have easily had him P1 on and on the way to possible pole position. “I tried to brake a fraction too late and I screwed up and locked up over the bumps,” said Wilson.
Wilson started the race 10th and ran as high as 2nd in his first stint. He managed to stay on track for the first 26 laps and pit under the race’s first caution period. Wilson was hit from behind on the restart relegating Wilson to the back of the pack. Another caution came out on lap 40 and the DCR team decided to play some strategy and pitted Justin on lap 43 with the hope of some late race yellows and fuel savings to try to leapfrog the field.
Scott Dixon was on the same strategy and after a much needed yellow Dixon and Wilson found themselves 1 and 2 on the grid. Wilson was working Dixon for a pass on the restart and alongside him on the outside of turn 8 when Dixon turned into him crashing out the #19 Boy Scouts of America car and ending what would have likely been a race win for the hard working team, as Dixon needed one more splash of fuel and Justin was just safe on fuel.
“I just feel for the Boy Scouts of America guys. We worked so hard, had fantastic strategy. We gambled and could make the mileage and we should have been at least on the podium. I think we are there and we have got what it takes. We have some great people and the car runs flawlessly and we are out there trying to win races. It is just frustrating when something like this is taken away from you,” reflected Wilson.
Carlos Huertas came into the weekend never seeing Long Beach and despite it only being his second race with team showed great speed and professionalism. Never putting a wheel wrong or overshooting a braking point the talented Colombian would show well by out qualifying Graham Rahal and Sebastian Saavedra. Carlos ran a fast and smooth race only to be penalized for a questionable restart call on lap 65 which put him to the back of the lead lap.
Carlos was racing hard trading positions with Juan Pablo Montoya and should have finished 4th or 5th had it not been for the penalty. “Montoya lifted big and I did pass on the restart to avoid hitting him, then I let him back by before turn 1 so I am surprised I was penalized,” reported Carlos Huertas. “The team helped me learn the track and it was a coulda weekend that should have been even better.”
It certainly was a frustrating yet promising weekend for Dale Coyne Racing in what would have been a great 1 and 5 finish for just a couple of unlucky happenings, but as they say, that’s racing.
The next race for the Verizon IndyCar Series takes place at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama. The Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama will be on Sunday, April 27 at 3:00 PM ET and will air live on NBC Sports Network.
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Trevor J. Moore