Justin salvages 10th in Houston after unlucky puncture Justin experienced the highs and lows of racing at the Grand Prix of Houston, but unfortunately his luck came in that order on a day that saw the ...
Justin salvages 10th in Houston after unlucky puncture
Justin experienced the highs and lows of racing at the Grand Prix of Houston, but unfortunately his luck came in that order on a day that saw the #9 CDW/RSPORTS car leading the early phase of the race yet taking the chequered flag in 10th place. Sebastien Bourdais won the race and Graham Rahal was 2nd, making it a Newman/Haas/Lanigan 1-2, while Robert Doornbos (Minardi Team USA) rounded out the podium. Justin's RSPORTS team-mate Alex Tagliani also had a difficult day, finishing 9th in the #8 LXN2 car.
Starting from 3rd on the grid when the green flag dropped, Justin showed he meant business by taking 2nd place from Will Power (Team Australia) on the opening lap. Soon he was hot on the heels of leader Sebastien Bourdais, just as the Frenchman was being served a penalty for cutting the first chicane to take the lead from Power. His punishment was to relinquish a position, leaving Justin free to take the lead on lap 4.
Justin ran in front until lap 14 when Sebastien made a clean pass to retake the lead, going on to pull out a gap of over 6 seconds by lap 24 when most of the field pitted under a full course yellow. By short-fuelling, Oriol Servia (Dale Coyne) and Graham Rahal jumped Justin for P3 and P4 respectively. By lap 34, once those on alternative strategies had pitted, Justin was lying a comfortable 4th and saving fuel.
The defining moment of Justin's race came on lap 53 when an ill-judged overtaking attempt by Will Power at Turn 4 went wrong. The Australian ran into the back of Justin's car, cutting his left rear tyre and forcing both drivers into the pits. Justin rejoined in 13th, but Power added insult to injury by taking the position on lap 59, leaving Justin almost a minute behind the leader.
After 72 laps, and some contact between others up ahead, Justin was back up to 9th when he had to come in again for fuel and tyres, dropping him further back the order. By lap 77 Justin was in 11th, but only six seconds away from the leader, and duelling with team-mate Alex Tagliani. Justin got past Alex, and was closing fast on those ahead when he spun at the Turn 2 chicane, forfeiting 10th place to his team-mate again. After PKV's Tristan Gommendy ran out of fuel in the closing stages, Justin moved up to 10th and stayed there until the chequered flag in a car that, at one point, had looked odds-on for a podium finish.
"The CDW crew did a great job for me today which allowed me to be competitive in today's race", said Justin. "We were working on saving fuel and then Will Power tried to make a pass that just wasn't going to happen. The contact punctured my rear tyre and we had to pit, which completely messed up our strategy and ultimately ruined our day. It's just very disappointing for the RSPORTS team and CDW. We could have had a much better result, but we'll move on to the next race and hope for a better finish there."