Justin Wilson's victory in Saturday night's Firestone 550 was his seventh career IndyCar victory, and his first on an oval. Here's how he and car owner Dale Coyne – who celebrated his second IndyCar win, the other coming at Watkins Glen 2009, also with Wilson – saw it.
Q. You led just 11 laps, an exciting 11 laps. Talk about that finish.
JUSTIN WILSON: It was a lot of fun. I was behind Graham [Rahal], and he managed to pull away on that restart or after we got around the Penske cars. I thought at that stage he'd gone. There was nothing I could do. But then we caught some traffic and I got past Ryan into second place, and then I just set on trying to do the best laps I could, trying to not slide the car too much but get as tight as possible just to try and catch Graham thinking maybe something will happen.
Toward the end there I was chasing him down getting closer and closer, and you're hanging on because every corner you turn in the car goes into a four‑wheel slide, you get to the middle of the banking it would grip up again and then as you come off the corner you would go into a full slide. I know we were pushing it pretty hard sideways a lot, and when I saw him brush the wall, that's when I really knew we had a chance to pull this off. I passed him coming out of Two. I was actually sideways myself because of that, had to lift, tighten my line. It was getting pretty loose.
Just really happy to get this first win on oval. It's a big relief, and it's great to get another win for this man. He's given me some great cars, and there have been times earlier this year when we felt we should have at least been on the podium if not better. But we keep saying, OK, it's racing, it's going to come good, and sure enough, it did.
Q. Dale, tonight you snapped the dominance of Team Penske and Target Chip Ganassi. What does it mean to you to knock those names off the win streak?
DALE COYNE: Well, one has to replace those names so working toward that. It's nice to be here in Texas. It's fitting that in Texas a barbecue car wins the race, so that's proper. We had brisket about eight hours now since we've had some barbecue. But we're happy to do this on an oval.
It was pretty special with the new car. We all started from square one, and I think that showed we've been pretty competitive with that. We struggled a little bit the first few races, but we figured it out quickly and we ran strong at Indy, had a legitimate shot at Indy and had a legitimate shot here, and we finished the deal tonight, so we're very pleased with that.
Q. Justin, both you and Graham took the lead on safety, especially on the mile and a half ovals – how fitting is it that this race was the first race back on a mile and a half was decided by the two of you?
JUSTIN WILSON: I think all the drivers were concerned, concerned of the unknown. Some people overreact, some people are a bit more laid back, and as a group I was trying to manage that situation. I think IndyCar did a fantastic job. We came here with a great package, and it allowed for people to come and go throughout the race. We weren't just glued to the racetrack and flat out waiting for something to happen. You're actually racing each other.
It's the most fun I've had on an oval. Obviously I won, so I'm going to feel a bit biased towards it! But I think it was a great package. I think it was as safe as motivating goes but still high stakes; you can't afford to make a mistake out there.
Q. You and I have had a conversation for a couple years about when are you going to be able to prove that you can actually drive on an oval. Does it feel good to get this one behind you and maybe put that conversation to rest?
JUSTIN WILSON: Yeah, hopefully this calms that down. It's definitely a relief on my side because even after qualifying yesterday, I thought, "Well, that wasn't very good. Maybe I don't know what I'm doing." So I've got a great team around me and we just kept working on the car, trying to make sure that it was balanced, and we knew it had to be balanced for the entire stint of the tires instead of just going after ultimate lap time in qualifying.
It was a trade‑off. We gave up a low-downforce qualifying run to make sure that we had a good car, and it's great.
Actually Dale and myself had that conversation, I think it was in Detroit or after Detroit, and he said, "Which race do you really want to win on?" and without hesitation I said, "I want to win at Texas. People think I can't drive at this track, so I want to put that to rest." To have the car to do it is a great feeling.
Q. Of all the ovals, why Texas?
JUSTIN WILSON: Because this is considered most of a traditional mile and a half oval, and typically we've run flat‑out here, and the quickest car usually wins as far as straight‑line speed, not necessarily balance and handling. For me it was this is a track I seem to have struggled on the most over the last few years, and like every driver I've got an ego, so I wanted to put that straight.