By Christopher DeHarde, IndyCar & Road to Indy Writer
INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana — In eight laps, James Davison was already over 217 mph. The Australian was drafted overnight to replace the injured Sebastien Bourdais after a savage accident left the 2017 St. Petersburg winner on the sideline with multiple pelvic fractures and a fractured right hip.
Davison was got back up to speed quickly during Mondays’s post qualifying practice and turned 44 laps within the first 80 minutes of practice. His fastest lap to that point was 223.670 mph, good enough for 19th on the speed chart at the time. That ended up being his fastest lap of the day.
Davison wasn’t in Indianapolis when Bourdais hit the wall. He was at Road America when the incident took place, watching on a live stream.
“I was pretty horrified, to be honest. I had a pain in my stomach immediately because you knew he had to be hurt in some way and it also brought back kind of a deja vu of Hinchcliffe’s crash for many,” Davison said.
When Davison last ran in 2015, it was the first year of the Honda vs Chevrolet aero kit battles. Now, in the third and final year, both Chevrolet and Honda have had some changes to what they initially put in in 2015. Did he notice that much of a change from 2015 to 2017?
“It’s very similar, to be honest. I will say I probably had a more challenging day getting the balance of the car and feeling comfortable with the balance of the car. I was a little loose out there for the second half of the practice today, having a number of wiggles.”
This isn’t the first time Davison’s been recruited during a difficult month at Indianapolis. During 2015, Davison was scheduled to drive the No. 19 car for Dale Coyne Racing but the car was qualified by Tristan Vautier owing to Davison’s Pirelli World Challenge commitments.
Davison’s only other attempt at Indianapolis was in 2014 with KV Racing. He finished 16th, his best run at Indianapolis. Before running at Indianapolis, Davison’s open wheel resume includes being runner-up in what was known as the Star Mazda championship in 2007 and the Indy Lights championship in 2009.
After being away from Indianapolis since 2015, how long did it take the Australian to get used to running at 220 mph?
“It came back to me like it was yesterday.”