Justin Wilson: Indy 500 wouldn't have finished under green no matter what

Chris Graythen

Justin Wilson says a green-white-checkered finish wouldn't have allowed the Indianapolis 500 to finish under the green flag, because the drivers were going to continue wrecking into Turn 1 regardless of the number of overtime attempts.

Justin Wilson says that Ryan Hunter-Reay and Scott Dixon are the most complete drivers in the IndyCar Series, but he's made a strong case for himself over the past two seasons since rejoining Dale Coyne Racing.

The one-time Formula 1 driver has now won on every configuration the IndyCar Series visits during the course of a season, including roads, streets and an oval win at Texas last season. He's also off to a career-best start in 2013, scoring four top-10s in his first five races heading into this weekend's twin races in Belle Isle.

It's that kind of diversity that wins championships, and it's the reason Wilson believes Hunter-Reay and Dixon are perennial championship favorites -- a group he'd like to join later in the season.

"Those two are just so strong everywhere we go," Wilson told SB Nation over the phone on Thursday afternoon. "You have to be strong everywhere to compete for championships, because it's tough to find an advantage on just one type of track."

With traditional championship favorites like Will Power and Dario Franchitti struggling so far this year, Wilson is starting to believe that his momentum could amount to a surprise championship run. The remainder of the season shakes out very well for him, with two races in Detroit and Texas being among his best on the campaign.

‘The championship is definitely our aim," Wilson said. "It's amazing how things have turned around. Circumstance has definitely given us a chance to chase the championship. Some races have really gone well for us and I think we have the team to do it.

"We want to do it but we have to put ourselves in contention first."

His month of May indicates that he's quite capable of doing just that, having qualified 14th and finishing in fifth — the top-ranked Honda driver in the Indianapolis 500. Despite the strong statistics, Wilson wasn't always sure that things would go that well, especially after he fell back to 25th by the middle stages of the race.

"We missed a little bit on the start," Wilson said. "We blistered a tire and fell back, deep in the field. I couldn't help but think, ‘this isn't turning out quite like we expected,' but we kept chipping away at it and found ourselves in contention with a few laps to go. It was a real good effort by everyone involved."

Wilson says he would like to believe he had a chance to win the Indianapolis 500 if it could have been restarted, but ultimately believes he didn't have enough to overtake Tony Kanaan and the three Andretti cars, adding that he was better on the long runs.

And don't get him started on the possibility of a green-white-checkered, either.

"The race was never going to finish under green," Wilson said. "No matter how many times you restart it, we were going to go for it and someone was going to end up in the wall in Turn 1 and it just happened to be Dario [Franchitti]. It was like a green-white-checkered for us already and we knew it — we had to get it done and TK did.

"I know people would like us to finish under green, I just don't know if that is the answer or not."

Wilson will compete in this weekend's Dual in Detroit where he is currently sixth in the IndyCar championship standings, 43 points behind Marco Andretti.

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