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Tuesday, 2 September, 2008 12:30 PM

Justin Wilson wins the Detroit Indy Grand Prix after a controversial call

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Justin Wilson celebrates his win at the Comerica Bank Winners Circle.

by Jason Rzucidlo
americajr@americajr.com

 

DETROIT – McDonald's driver Justin Wilson won his fifth IndyCar/Champ Car series victory at the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix on Sunday. Helio Castroneves was in the lead with 17 laps remaining. Officials made the call that Castroneves was blocking Wilson. Castroneves was penalized and Wilson was given the lead, which he kept all the way to the finish.

Wilson's win was the 150th for Firestone overall and the third for Newman-Haas-Lanigan Racing at Belle Isle. Since 2005, Wilson has won at least one race per season. His past wins include Toronto and Mexico City in 2005, Edmonton in 2006 and Assen (Netherlands) in 2007.

"It was a very interesting day," said Justin Wilson after winning the Detroit Indy Grand Prix. "Off the start, we just try to max the pace, save fuel and keep up with the guys in front. Once the yellow came out, everyone was a bit unsure which was the right way to go. We opted to stay out. It paid off so I was pleased about that. My team did a fantastic job. It's great to finally get a win."

Helio Castroneves was very upset about the call that officials made. There isn't even a blocking rule in the IndyCar series rule book. The decision is up to the race stewards.

"I was pushing a lot exactly like Sonoma," said Helio Castroneves after finishing behind Wilson. "I had a great strategy. Car was awesome. We did everything we could to win this race. My point of view it's a situation that's very unusual. When you drive like that under pressure, I was really going for it. We did lap times close to qualifying times. I was having a lot of fun. Great pit stops. I was very proud of the whole organization."

Since Castroneves finished second, he lost 10 points in the standings. Now, he is 30 points behind points leader Scott Dixon. The very last race of the season is at Chicagoland Speedway where the championship winner will be decided. If Castroneves would have won in Detroit, he would only be 20 points behind Dixon.

"I knew if I didn't do that, probably he has nothing to lose," said Castroneves. "He's not battling for the championship. He's just battling for a win. I'm very surprised with the call. My opinion on that, I have to say is if you're gonna put rules, you gotta start from the beginning not towards the end. It was all of a sudden. Now, I gotta give the position for him. Wait a minute. Next lap, I was already three cars away from him. It was just unusual call."

Castroneves had the fastest car in practice for the Detroit Indy Grand Prix. However, Dixon won the pole. Both drivers started the race 1-2. Dixon who was leading, made a pit stop on lap 18 while the other drivers stayed on the track.

"I don't think it was much of a race to be honest," said Scott Dixon at the conclusion of the race. "It was pretty pitiful. The car was quicker than anybody's. We were saving a top of fuel up front. Changed pretty quickly when we got to about half tank. I think I was about the only person that pitted. It's just a hard situation when you're at that point and nobody else pits."

Dixon only needs to finish in eight place or better next week to clinch the title.

"I think my anger or whatever is just from frustration," Dixon said. "I think clearly we had the quickest car. Nobody was going to touch that."

It was Justin Wilson's first race on Detroit's Belle Isle. Wilson started in four place for Sunday's race.

"From my position, he slid a little bit through 10-11-12," said Wilson about Helio Castroneves having to give up his lead. "As we went into took 12, I got some great traction. Before we even got to full power, I was inching beside him. By the time we hit the brakes and went axle to axle, I'm on the inside, it's pretty clear cut. To my surprise, he came over, came over more and came over more to the point I had to just back out. It was pretty severe. I was upset on the radio complaining to my team. They said, 'calm down. IndyCar has seen it and they know how bad it was so they're going to make a call.'"

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Justin Wilson and his car are pushed into the winner's circle.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Confetti is released as Wilson gets out of his car.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Wilson and his team pose for a team picture.

 

PHOTO BY JASON RZUCIDLO / ©AMERICAJR.com

Wilson completes turn 12 during the race.

 

Return to our Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix Race Coverage

 

 

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