Birmingham, Alabama – Justin Wilson was poised to make a serious claim for the pole position Saturday morning during the Firestone Fast 12 qualifying session at Barber Motorsports Park. But those hopes were quickly dashed when Takuma Sato slowed down in front of him, causing Wilson to slow and go around Sato. Wilson was working on what would have been the second fastest lap of the qualifying session and a chance to run for the pole in the Firestone Fast Six.
Wilson’s No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda, which will start eighth in Sunday’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, has been fast all weekend. He posted the ninth quickest lap in the morning practice session and was the second fastest in group two qualifying, which advanced him into the Firestone Fast 12.
"I’m really upset by what happened,” said a very frustrated Wilson. “The No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda was really fast today. We definitely had a top three car today, possible even a pole winning one. My red tires were just coming in and I was working on 67.0-second lap when Sato slowed down in front of me and didn’t get out of the way. That caused me to slow down and have to go around him.”
Immediately following the session, Wilson got out of his car and went straight to the IndyCar Officials to lobby his complaint. IndyCar Series Race director Beaux Barfield had video of the incident and gave Sato an interference penalty of losing his fastest two laps.
“Once I came in into the pits I ran right to the IndyCar trailer to see if they sawwhat happened,” said Wilson. “They took Sato’s two fastest laps away, which was some sort of justice. I just feel bad for the crew because they have given me a pole winning car this weekend.”
Ana Beatriz continued to show improvement on Saturday. The 28 year-old got caught up in some traffic, which prevented her from putting together a quick enough lap to advance her into the next round. She will start 25th on the starting grid on Sunday.
“We have some work ahead of us before the race tomorrow,” said Beatriz. “We will make some adjustments to the car and see what they do in the morning warm up on Sunday. I know the team is doing all they can to give me a good car and I appreciate all their hard work this weekend. Hopefully we can stay out of trouble in the race and make up some spots for a good finish.”
The Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama can be seen live on NBC Sports TV starting at 3:00 p.m. (EDT) on Sunday, April 7 with the green flag flying at 3:40 PM (EDT).
Dale Coyne Racing
Chris Gallas, Director of Public Relations