IndyCar driv­ers back at work with heavy hearts

The China Post - - SPORTS -

Justin Wil­son was on the minds of IndyCar driv­ers as they got back to work on Fri­day less than a week af­ter the Bri­tish driver died of in­juries suf­fered in last week­end’s race.

Three of the six se­ries cham­pi­onship con­tenders were among the five fastest in the first prac­tice ses­sion for Sun­day’s sea­son-end­ing Sonoma Grand Prix.

Reign­ing se­ries cham­pion Will Power’s year-old track record of 1 minute, 17.2393 sec­onds, set in qual­i­fy­ing on the 3.84-kilo­me­ter, 12-turn road course, will be chal- lenged in the three rounds of qual­i­fy­ing Aug. 29.

Power, who is fourth in the stand­ings, recorded the quick­est lap of 1 min­utes 17.4858 sec­onds on Fri­day in his Penske Chevro­let.

Amer­i­can Graham Ra­hal, who is 34 points be­hind cham­pi­onship front-run­ner Juan Pablo Montoya en­ter­ing the sea­son fi­nale, was .1326 of a sec­ond out­side Power’s top time.

Ryan Hunter-Reay, who has won two of the past three races, was third-fastest and three-time se­ries cham­pion Scott Dixon, third in the stand­ings, was fourth-quick­est.

Penske driver Montoya was ninth fastest in Fri­day’s prac­tice.

Brazil­ian Penske driver He­lio Cas­tron­eves noted in an ar­ti­cle writ­ten for Sports Il­lus­trated’s web­site on Fri­day that rac­ing less than a week af­ter Wil­son’s death is “dif­fi­cult.”

Wil­son died on Mon­day, a day af­ter de­bris from another driver’s crash hit him in the hel­met late in the race at Po­cono Race­way in Penn­syl­va­nia.

Re­minders of Wil­son are ev­ery­where, with Spain’s Oriol Servia driv­ing Wil­son’s 25 An­dretti Au­tosport Honda this week as a trib­ute.

IndyCar has pro­duced a me­mo­rial T-shirt for sale to ben­e­fit a fund for Wil­son’s two young daugh­ters, and teams have been given me­mo­rial de­cals to put on their cars.

“It’s hard for the words to come out the right way,” Servia said when asked about his friend Wil­son.

“I have known and raced Justin for more than 10 years. I have an enor­mous amount of re­spect for him as a racer, but his qual­i­ties as a hu­man were def­i­nitely an in­spi­ra­tion to any­one who ever met him.”

Added team owner Michael An­dretti: “We will have Justin and his fam­ily in our hearts this week­end as we honor him in the way he would want us to — by do­ing what he loved: rac­ing.”

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