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Justin Wilson nabs ride for Indianapolis races

Justin Wilson, right, seen with Michael Andretti, will drive the No. 25 Honda for Andretti Autosport at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis and the Indianapolis 500. Wilson has three IndyCar wins.
Justin Wilson, right, seen with Michael Andretti, will drive the No. 25 Honda for Andretti Autosport at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis and the Indianapolis 500. Wilson has three IndyCar wins.
Published Mar. 28, 2015

ST. PETERSBURG — Justin Wilson isn't racing this weekend at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, but he was pretty pleased on Friday just the same.

The British veteran, out of a full-time ride in IndyCar this season, announced a deal to drive for Andretti Autosport at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis and the Indianapolis 500, both in May.

Wilson will drive the No. 25 Honda in both races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

"I'm really honored, and I've also got to thank all the fans," Wilson said. "There's been a lot of people making a lot of noise in the background on social media. I'm pretty elated to see that."

Wilson, 36, owns three victories in IndyCar and four in Champ Car. Andretti's team won the Indianapolis 500 last year with Ryan Hunter-Reay driving.

"Michael has put together such a great outfit, a great team, and always so competitive at the 500," Wilson said. "That's the one race that every driver wants to win."

Team owner Michael Andretti said he wants to put together deals to run the No. 25 in more races for both Wilson and Simona de Silvestro, who is driving the car in St. Petersburg this weekend on a one-race deal.

JOHNSON INJURED: Michael Johnson, a Pro Mazda series driver who was paralyzed from the mid chest down in a 2005 motorcycle accident, broke his hip and pelvis in a crash in Turn 3 in the first practice session.

Jeffery Johnson of Bayfront Medical Center said Johnson was monitored in the intensive care unit, according to a news release.

Rainy day blues: The second of two scheduled IndyCar practices was not canceled, but after a late afternoon rain shower no cars took the track.

In the early afternoon session, defending race and IndyCar series champion Will Power set the fastest lap at 1 minute, 1.4709 seconds around the 1.8-mile street circuit. He led a 1-2-3 sweep for Team Penske, with Juan Pablo Montoya second and Helio Castroneves third.

The art of finishing: USF2000 driver Jack Eidsen knows that to win a championship in any series, he has to finish races.

Last year, Eidsen was better at that than anyone else.

"I didn't even notice this but apparently there was bunch of statistics that came out and I was the only driver to finish every single lap (in USF2000)," Eidsen said. "That helped a lot because we finished third in the championship. We were right there in the last race battling for the championship. So we're just trying to finish every race. It sounds easy, but anything can happen, even something mechanical that's not your fault."

On Friday, Eidsen got off to a good start, finishing as the fastest in both USF2000 practices. He was the only driver in the Road to Indy ladder series — USF2000, Pro Mazda and Indy Lights — to top each session.

Martin takes GTS race: Dean Martin won Friday's Pirelli World Challenge GTS race, finishing ahead of Kurt Rezzetano.

Martin, who started from the pole, maintained the lead after the first turn and led throughout. His fastest lap was 1 minute, 19.841 seconds, and he will start from the pole position in today's race. It was Martin's fifth career victory in the series, all on street courses.

Jack Baldwin, who grew up in Tampa and swept the GTS class in St. Petersburg two years ago, finished fourth Friday.

Quote of the day: CFH Racing's Luca Filippi said he only needs about 25 laps to completely learn a new track and how to find its limits. "If it takes longer," Filippi said, "you need to change jobs."

Times staff writer Matt Baker contributed to this report.