ST. PETERSBURG, Florida - Justin Wilson’s search for a Verizon IndyCar Series ride - at least on a part-time basis - has taken a positive turn, as he was announced to an Andretti Autosport Honda Friday for the two races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May.
Wilson, a seven-time IndyCar race winner from Sheffield, England, will drive the No. 25 Honda at the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis on May 9 and the 99th Indianapolis 500 on May 24. The 36-year-old veteran has competed in the Verizon IndyCar Series for 11 seasons with seven wins, 26 podium finishes, eight pole positions and 700 laps led.
Support from Honda Performance Development (HPD) was the final ingredient needed to make this part-time deal happen.
"It’s something we’ve been working on for four or five years trying to get Justin into one of our cars," team owner Michael Andretti said. "We’ve finally been able to do it. We’ve got him in the car for a couple of races with the goal of getting him in for a lot more. We’re really excited to have him at Indianapolis. It’s a great program and Honda has been an awesome partner for us to make this happen. We’re still looking for a primary sponsor that wants to run for a lot more races but getting Honda’s support to get these first two races we couldn’t have done it without them."
Andretti is continuing to seek additional sponsorship to keep Wilson in the car for more races in 2015.
"I have to thank Michael for all of his efforts over the offseason working so hard to put something together," Wilson said. "Hopefully, it can grow and we’ll have a good race and have it turn into a full-time ride in the future. Right now, I’m jumping in for those two races and hopefully have a great Month of May at Indianapolis. It’s a great opportunity."
Wilson won two races with the smaller Dale Coyne Racing team but is now driving for one of the premier teams in the Verizon IndyCar Series – the same team that won last year’s Indianapolis 500 with Ryan Hunter-Reay as the driver.
"It’s a great opportunity and that was one of my next career moves," said Wilson, a former Formula One driver for Jaguar in 2003. "Michael has put together such a great outfit and great team and they are always so competitive at the Indianapolis 500. That is the one race every driver wants to win.
"Right now it’s just two races but it’s two of the best races. The Indy 500 is the one race in your career where if you win that it changes everything. It gives me the best shot of winning. There are no guarantees. There are still 33 cars out there that can win but having an Andretti Autosport car in those two races gives you a slight edge. I’m still good friends with Dale Coyne and I respect him for what he has done in my career. Winning for him meant a lot but it was time for us to look for something different."
Wilson joins regular drivers Ryan Hunter-Reay, the 2012 IndyCar Series champion and defending Indianapolis 500 winner, Marco Andretti and Carlos Munoz. Simona de Silvestro is driving a one-race deal in this weekend’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and is working on an Indy 500 deal. Sage Karam is also trying to put a deal together with Andretti Autosport.
Michael Andretti said he intends to field five entries in this year’s Indianapolis 500.
"We have a great team and put a big effort in for the race so having Justin in one of our cars is a great opportunity for us," Andretti said. "When you have multiple cars the personalities have to fit with everyone else and Justin is going to fit right in and work together with our whole group.
"He is going to bring a lot to the party for the Month of May."
Be sure to catch Bruce Martin’s Verizon IndyCar Series Report on RACEDAY on FOX Sports Radio every Sunday from 6-8 a.m. Eastern Time.