Dale Coyne Racing sees open window of opportunity, leaps headlong through it

Justin Wilson embraces Dale Coyne after the two combined for the first-ever IZOD IndyCar Series victory at Watkins Glen, NY in 2009. (Photo: Ron McQueeney/IndyCar)

If ever there was a time for perennial minnow Dale Coyne to become a serious player in the IZOD IndyCar Series, 2012 may be that time.

The well-liked team owner got his first IndyCar victory at Watkins Glen International in 2009 with driver Justin Wilson and engineer Bill Pappas. It was a terrific moment for Coyne and for IndyCar, but to say that anyone saw it coming would be stretching the truth quite a bit.

As if that were not enough, the combination almost won two other races that year, and for people used to seeing the Coyne cars struggling gamely midpack or tailing the rest of the field, it was a revelation.

Now, with a new engine and chassis formula coming online in 2012, Coyne is "Putting the Band Back Together" (no, really, that's precisely how the team's public relations arm termed it) by rehiring Wilson and Pappas and casting their lot with Honda's powerful new twin-turbo V6 engine.

The playing field hasn't been this level in many, many years. The new Dallara DW12 IndyCar will be seeing its first action and a new turbocharged engine formula has attracted Honda, Chevrolet, and Lotus as badging and development partners.

Honda, of course, is considered to be the early favorite simply because Honda has exclusively built every IndyCar motor for the better part of a decade. Helping develop that engine is the acknowledged "prime crew" at Target Chip Ganassi Racing, who if you haven't already noticed has won the last couple IZOD IndyCar championships.

This all bodes well for Dale Coyne Racing, which could be on the verge of its greatest season in the team's history.

"I am really excited as to how all of this has come together," Wilson said. "Dale is committed to win, and it shows by him bringing back my 2009 engineer Bill Pappas, the level playing field of a new car and the much appreciated continuation with Honda engines should make 2012 a very exciting year for all of us."

"We are very excited about 2012 and the team we are assembling," agreed Coyne. "As to this opportunity, racing is a combination of things, team, dedication, the right equipment, and engineering and of course the driver. This combination knows each other and this coupled with Honda and other improvements in our efforts for 2012 and beyond should make for a breakout year for Dale Coyne Racing."

If Coyne and Wilson are right and the team does indeed have a revelatory 2012 campaign, it is very doubtful that anyone would begrudge them their success.

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