Justin satisfied with 11th place in Chicagoland season finale
Justin and Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing put in a strong performance in the Peak Antifreeze & Motor Oil Indy 300 at Chicagoland Speedway, scoring an 11th place finish after starting 21st. Helio Castroneves (Team Penske) won the race in a photo finish from Scott Dixon (Chip Ganassi Racing), but the latter took the Championship spoils to add to his Indianapolis 500 victory in May. Justin's team-mate Graham Rahal retired following pit-lane contact with another car after running as high as 5th place.
The No. 02 McDonald's team resolved the gearbox problem that hampered their qualifying effort around the 1.5 mile oval on Saturday and when the green flag flew Justin carved through the field, moving up to 16th place by Lap 3 - when he set the fastest lap of the race - and staying comfortably inside the top-15 thereafter. As the race unfolded he made steady progress, running as high as 9th place just before his fourth and final pit-stop in the closing stages.
"We had a lot of overtaking to do today, but the McDonald's car was good," said Justin. "We ran in the top-10 and to be out there racing in a pack of cars was fun. I'm reasonably happy with an 11th place finish. It's been a good year for the McDonald's team considering all of the challenges we've faced."
With the car's much improved pace, Justin was unlucky to miss out on Rookie of the Year honours by just 6 points to Hideki Mutoh (Andretti Green Racing).
"When it came down to the last stint I think everyone picked up the pace and we couldn't hang on," explained Justin. "I needed to finish in the top-eight based on where Mutoh was running late in the race. As I was going into Turn 3 on the last restart I had a good run and thought I could pass a few cars and get it, but the guy in front of me (Mutoh's team-mate Marco Andretti) suddenly checked up. I was close to crashing, so that let a couple more guys by me and we lost out on Rookie of the Year because of it."
Justin and the team will now take a short, well-earned break before getting back on track for some end of season testing as well preparing for the exhibition race in Surfers Paradise on October 26.