On a day when the thoughts of Justin and the CDW-RuSPORT team were with Cristiano da Matta and his family, the team endured a fraught Grand Prix of Denver to finish a disappointed 8th. A.J. Allmendinger took the win for Forsythe Championship...
On a day when the thoughts of Justin and the CDW-RuSPORT team were with Cristiano da Matta and his family, the team endured a fraught Grand Prix of Denver to finish a disappointed 8th. A.J. Allmendinger took the win for Forsythe Championship Racing, while Bruno Junqueira and Dan Clarke scored unexpected podium finishes for Newman-Haas and CTE-HVM respectively after Sebastien Bourdais (Newman-Haas) and Paul Tracy (Forsythe) tangled on the very last corner of the final lap.
Starting from 3rd on the grid, Justin maintained that position comfortably for the first half of the race. But when Forsythe's A.J. Allmendinger pitted as early as lap 18 to swap his red Bridgestone tyres for the harder black compound, it became clear that everything would hinge on how long each car could stay competitive during their mandatory one stint on the softer rubber. This pattern was repeated in the middle stint of the race when Sebastien Bourdais fell down the order as he also struggled for grip on the red tyres.
Justin started the race on blacks and stayed on the harder rubber for his second stint. As he moved up to 2nd before the final stops on lap 62, he found the car's performance improving with every lap. But by then the die was cast and Justin had no choice but to switch to the red tyres for the 35-lap final stint. Within ten laps the tyres were losing grip at an alarming rate, to the point where Justin was significantly off the pace to the tune of 1 to 3 seconds a lap. Before long he tumbled down the order, finally bottoming out in 8th position, one lap down. At the same time Sebastien Bourdais clawed his way back up the field, seemingly towards a podium finish before Paul Tracy understeered into him at the last corner as they duelled for 2nd place.
"Obviously, we're disappointed," said Justin. "The CDW team worked hard all weekend to improve the performance of the car and get quicker, but we just couldn't make up for the problems we encountered during the last stint of the race. We were also hoping to give a better result to Cristiano and his family, as well as our hometown fans here in Denver. But this team never gives up and we'll work hard over the next two weeks and be ready to go in Montreal."
Justin is now 3rd in the driver standings, two points behind A.J. and 35 behind Sebastien. Justin and RuSPORT will be looking to repeat their 2005 podium performance at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in a fortnight.