IndyCar's Justin Wilson, 37, dies after injury on Pocono track

Justin Wilson, who had seven victories in a 12-year career in U.S.-based open-wheel circuits, died Monday. He was 37.

IndyCar made the announcement on Monday night at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The Englishman was competing in his sixth race this year for Andretti Autosport in what had originally been a two-race deal for both Indianapolis Motor Speedway events that was recently expanded to include the final five races of 2015.

Wilson was airlifted to Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest in Allentown, Pennsylvania, on Sunday evening with a head injury after it appeared he was struck on the helmet by debris from Sage Karam's one-car crash in front of Wilson on the track.

With Wilson possibly unconscious, his car speared at nearly unabated speed into an angled wall protected by a SAFER barrier on the inside of the exit of Turn 1 near a gap in the wall where safety vehicles enter the track.

Wilson was known as a gentle giant among drivers. Soft-spoken and deeply analytical, Wilson was one of the most popular drivers among his peers, and his strong technical ability in suggesting tweaks to help the car perform better was evident in the Andretti team's recently improved form. Wilson finished second in the IndyCar race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Aug. 2 in his last event before Pocono.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Danica Patrick were among NASCAR drivers to tweet their condolences to Wilson's family on Monday.

Wilson, who grew up in Woodall, a town in England's Yorkshire region, started his racing career in go-karts at age 9. He spent the 2003 season in Formula One driving for Minardi and Jaguar before moving to the United States, where he began competing in the Champ Car-sanctioned Indy car series for Conquest Racing in 2004.

Wilson joined the start-up RuSPORT team in Champ Car in 2005 and scored that organization's first race win at Toronto. Wilson achieved all four of RuSPORT's race wins, from 2005 through 2007, and he finished second to Sebastien Bourdais in the 2006 and '07 Champ Car points standings.

For 2008, Wilson appeared to have finally landed his big break, signing with Newman/Haas Racing to replace Bourdais when the Frenchman switched to Formula One. Typical of Wilson's luck, his car's gearbox broke after he led from pole position at Long Beach in his Newman/Haas debut in what was the last race for the Champ Car formula in April 2008.

NHR joined the unified IndyCar Series for the remainder of the 2008 season, and with a victory at the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix, Wilson led ex-Champ Car drivers in the IndyCar Series standings. But Newman/Haas downsized after team co-founder Paul Newman died, and Wilson was left without a ride again.

He landed with Dale Coyne Racing in a marriage of convenience that worked out well for both parties. Wilson earned DCR's first Indy car race win at Watkins Glen in 2009, undoubtedly one of the sport's best feel-good stories in the past 20 years. Returning to the Coyne team after spending two years with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, he added another win in 2012 at Texas Motor Speedway.

Although Wilson was regarded as one of the most talented drivers in IndyCar racing, tough luck seemed to follow him throughout his career. He had the backing of Honda but could assemble only a part-time schedule for 2015. His midseason arrival appeared to spark the Andretti team, with Ryan Hunter-Reay winning at Iowa Speedway and again at Pocono in the race in which Wilson lost his life.

Wilson made 174 career starts in IndyCar and Champ Car, earning eight career poles, 47 top-5 finishes and 94 top-10s. Wilson was also part of the winning team at the 2012 Rolex 24 at Daytona, where he drove for Michael Shank Racing with teammates AJ Allmendinger, Ozz Negri and John Pew.

Wilson is survived by his wife, Julia, and children Jane and Jessica.

Wilson's younger brother, Stefan, also has IndyCar experience. He competed in the Baltimore race in 2013 and also had 32 Indy Lights starts from 2009 to 2012.

Stefan was following in the successful footsteps of Justin, who was a finalist at age 10 for the 1998 McLaren Autosport British Racing Drivers' Club Young Driver of the Year. Wilson won the FIA Formula 3000 title in 2001 -- the first British driver to do so -- at age 13.

The tallest IndyCar Series driver at 6-foot-4, Wilson had shared his story of growing up with dyslexia in hopes of encouraging children to work to overcome the reading disability.

"I knew from an early age this is what I wanted to do," Wilson said in a 2012 Associated Press story. "It's the one thing that came easier to me than anything else.

"Sure, you've still got to work at everything in life. But this thing came easy, whereas everything else, all my schoolwork, even soccer at school, it just wasn't easy. And racing always was."