|James Davison at Mid-Ohio|
How Australian race car driver James Davison arrived at his first IndyCar Series event last weekend is a showcase in perseverance.
Davison moved to the U.S. in 2005 as an 18-year-old Melbourne native chasing a dream. Things were proceeding well until after he finished second to JR Hildebrand in the Firestone Indy Lights Series in 2009. That’s when his career stalled.
Davison was a Vision Racing driver, but that was the year team owner Tony George was stripped of his IndyCar and Indianapolis Motor Speedway management positions. George disbanded Vision after that season.
Davison has raced almost nothing since then. He’s had three Grand-Am sports car races, an IndyCar test with Andretti Autosport in 2011, Australia’s Bathurst 1000 in February, and co-drove a Mustang in last month’s Continental Tires Series event at IMS, part of the Kroger Super Weekend at the Brickyard.
“On average, I’ve done one race every six months the past four years," Davison said.
Meanwhile, drivers he beat in Indy Lights (James Hinchcliffe, Charlie Kimball, Sebastian Saavedra, Ana Beatriz and Mario Romancini) have landed full-time rides, while other former rivals (Wade Cunningham, Jay Howard, Martin Plowman and Pippa Mann) have raced Indy cars.
Davison’s income has come from driver coaching, including Milka Duno in IndyCar, and race spotting. Most of his recent spotting has been with Saavedra, the IndyCar driver with whom he shares a Castleton apartment, but he never seems far from Will Power.
The Aussies are race-talking junkies, and Power often asks him to watch to see where he’s losing time to his rivals. Davison frequently finds it; he just needed a chance to show that he could see it from the cockpit.
Team owner Dale Coyne gave Davison that chance last week, letting him test at the Mid-Ohio track where he won two Indy Lights races and fielding him in the Honda Indy 200. Davison didn’t disappoint.
Not only did the No. 18 car never stray from the track in four days on track, Davison essentially matched the qualifying efforts of Indianapolis 500 winners Helio Castroneves and Tony Kanaan. Davison finished the race on the lead lap, significant given the nearly two hours of nonstop racing, 90 laps in all.
“If you mathematically map it out, you’ve only got to be about a half-second off the pace to go down a lap," Davison said. “I think it was definitely an achievement."
Justin Wilson has had four teammates at Dale Coyne Racing this season, and he was impressed with Davison, 26.
“He didn’t make any mistakes, and you can’t ask for more than that," Wilson said.
Davison doesn’t have a lead on additional drives, but he believes he is positioned to have a discussion with someone if a driver is needed.
“Certainly this has to give (Coyne) and some other team owners some confidence to put me in a car, whether that’s as a relief driver or a full-time driver," he said. “I hadn’t been on the radar, but now I am, and that’s at least a big step forward for me." Indy Star