Back-to-back podiums have Wilson in title race
After two podium finishes in the first three races of the 2011 Firestone Indy Lights championship, Stefan Wilson is almost where he wants to be.
Thanks to a third-place finish on the streets of Long Beach, Calif., the 21-year-old from Sheffield, England sits third in point standings, 20 points behind the series' new point leader Conor Daly.
It's a long way from Wilson's nightmare start in the St. Petersburg opener where he finished 16th after an early-race incident. And with Daly only contesting a limited schedule, Wilson finds himself only 10 points behind second-place driver Josef Newgarden as the series heads into its marquee event - the Firestone Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 27.
"All in all, I'm very pleased," Wilson said. "The second consecutive podium in two weeks, so I'm pleased with that, and it's good points, and it's just nice to be here on the podium at Long Beach and good momentum heading into Indianapolis."
That Wilson drove his way to the podium is a testament to his experience in the series. Wilson is one of only three drivers in the field - along with Gustavo Yacaman and Brandon Wagner - that has raced at nearly every track.
And it was that experienced that he relied on as he moved from sixth to third, while negotiating a Long Beach course that was unforgiving to those who made slight errors.
"I knew that Turn 1 would be crucial and I thought it was going to be very tight, and I'm glad that I was able to maintain my position through Turn 1," Wilson said. "We had a good race car and were able to pressure guys into mistakes.
"Right at the end there I was keeping up with Esteban (Guerrieri) on the cold tires, and I felt if we had an extra couple laps we could have had a chance to get by, and then it turns out the next corner Josef (Newgarden) made a mistake and went off, and that elevated me to a podium finish and took away the rest of the race.
"Obviously it was very surprising to see Josef go off there at the end. He had been running a really strong pace, and obviously unfortunate for him, but it was beneficial to me."