Justin satisfied with 7th at Indy Grand Prix of Alabama Starting from 11th on the grid, Justin and the No. 22 Z-Line/Charter team drove a determined race to 7th place in Sunday's Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, scoring the fastest...
Justin satisfied with 7th at Indy Grand Prix of Alabama
Starting from 11th on the grid, Justin and the No. 22 Z-Line/Charter team drove a determined race to 7th place in Sunday's Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, scoring the fastest lap of the race in the process. Helio Castroneves took victory for Team Penske while Chip Ganassi team-mates Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti finished 2nd and 3rd respectively. Justin's Dreyer & Reinbold Racing team-mate Mike Conway finished 8th in the No. 24 Roll Coater car.
Before the race many commentators had speculated about the likely lack of overtaking at the 2.38 mile road course, but Justin managed to make up two positions on the opening lap and during the second half of the race he made steady progress through the field.
The deciding factor in Sunday's 90-lap race was race strategy. Some, including pole-sitter Will Power (Team Penske) and Justin, stopped three times, while another group, including the final top-3, planned on two-stopping. A successful three-stop strategy required luck with track position in relation to slower traffic and a choice of yellow cautions. In an oddly incident-free race -- the first in IZOD IndyCar Series history where all of the runners finished -- there were no caution periods in the crucial middle part of the race.
Justin pitted the No. 22 Charter car during the first yellow on Lap 13, but the loss of track position meant he struggled to make progress behind slower traffic, so by the time of his second stop on Lap 42 he was still in 9th. Switching to the softer red-sidewalled Firestones for his third stint he started to make real progress, setting the fastest time of the race (1:12.7853) on Lap 53 before pitting for the last time from 6th place on Lap 65. After the final stops had cycled through Justin was in 8th and hot on the heels of Tony Kanaan (Andretti Autosport). He managed to get past the Brazilian for 7th on Lap 83. A brief, 2-lap caution on Lap 86 bunched the field for a final sprint to the chequered flag, but Justin found himself blocked repeatedly by a lapped car and was unable to advance further.
"I'm pretty happy with the result today for the Z-Line Designs/Charter car," said Justin. "Passing is very hard here, but I just steadily kept picking off positions. We pitted early in the race and it dropped us back a bit, but we never gave up working on the car to make it better and I'm pleased we posted the fastest lap of the race. I'm looking forward to Long Beach next week and hopefully we can move up in the points."
Justin now lies 4th in the IZOD IndyCar Series driver standings with 85 points as the series heads to California for next weekend's Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.