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From Watkins Win to Wesley, What a Week for Wickens

Saturday, Jul 02 282
  • By Jeff Olson
    IMSA Wire Service
     
    BOWMANVILLE, Ontario – Quick summary of Robert Wickens’ week:
     
    Landmark victory at Watkins Glen. Travel to Canada to begin homecoming race week. Unscheduled late-night trip to Indianapolis. Become a father. Travel back to Canada. Try to win again.
     
    If you were wondering why he wasn’t at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park on Friday, there’s a wonderful reason: Wickens and his wife Karli welcomed Wesley Joseph Wickens to the world. Wickens then hustled back to Canada to compete later today in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race.
    "For those of you wondering why I wasn’t at the track today," Wickens posted on social media, "I would like everyone to meet Wesley Joseph Wickens. Born two weeks early but we could not be happier. Baby and Mom are doing great! I am so grateful to be married to such a strong woman! Let’s start the next chapter!"
     
    It’s just one more chapter in the story of Wickens’ life, which provides inspiration beyond the motorsports world – even if he doesn’t see himself the way others do.  
     
    “I don’t see myself as an inspirational person,” Wickens said earlier this week. “I’m just a guy trying to get back to something I love to do. People tell me that they think they beat cancer because of how motivated and driven I was, and they thought they could do it. When people tell me their life story and what they’ve been through, it’s a crazy experience. It’s hard to explain in words.”
     
    He’s likely to hear similar stories today as he prepares for the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park 120 at the historic track in Bowmanville, Ontario, a short drive from his boyhood home. Because they didn’t participate in Friday’s qualifying, Wickens, co-driver Mark Wilkins and the No. 33 Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian Hyundai Elantra N TCR will start at the back of the field in the race, which starts at 4:10 p.m. ET and airs live on Peacock (in the U.S.), IMSA.com/TVLive (outside the U.S.) and IMSA Radio.
     
    After Wickens and Wilkins teamed to win the Tioga Downs Casino Resort 120 last week at Watkins Glen International – Wickens’ first win since returning from a crash in 2018 that left him with a spinal cord injury – Wickens is once again the inspirational and motivational talk of racing.
     
    And, since it’s his first race in Canada since finishing third in an IndyCar Series race at Toronto in 2018, he’s expecting to see plenty of family members, friends and fans. In his younger years, Wickens watched races at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, then known as Mosport International Raceway, from Turn 2. 
     
    “It’s definitely going to be a great turnout,” Wickens said. “I know I’m going to have some close friends and family there, people who haven’t seen me race since 2018 and a lot of people who haven’t seen me since prior to my accident.”
     
    While he expects the attention, Wickens says he doesn’t have any other expectations.
     
    “I always work on not having any expectations in anything,” Wickens said. “You kind of set yourself up for failure if you expect something great. If it doesn’t happen, you’re disappointed. But if you didn’t expect anything, you’re not disappointed.”
     
    When he returned home in 2019 after extensive rehabilitation, Wickens found “cases and cases” of cards and other correspondence from fans. At the time, he said he didn’t know the full effect of the support. Three years later, with his career resumed and victory in hand, he still doesn’t know the full effect.
     
    “It’s very humbling,” he said. “All I can say is that the fans in motorsports are a great group of people. They’re very kind. Everyone in the IMSA paddock has been so welcoming to me. It’s a category I wasn’t really a part of in my prior life, but they’ve welcomed me with open arms. It’s been a very nice experience so far.”
     
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Adam Sinclair

Adam has been a race fan since the first time he went through the tunnel under the Daytona International Speedway more than 30 years ago. He has had the privilege of traveling to races all across the state of Florida (as well as one race in Ohio), watching nearly everything with a motor compete for fame and glory, as well as participating in various racing schools to get the feel of what racecar drivers go through every week.  

Adam spent several years covering motorsports for Examiner.com., where he had the opportunity to see the racing world from behind the scenes as well as the grandstands. He invites everyone to follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus, and looks forward to sharing his enthusiasm for all things racing with the readers of SpeedwayDigest.com.

Be sure to tune in for his sports talk program, Thursday Night Thunder, where he discusses the latest in motorsports news with drivers, crew members, and fans. The show takes place (almost) every Thursday at 8:00 pm EST on the Speedway Digest Radio Network. 

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