UPS AND DOWNS FOR DREYER & REINBOLD RACING AT THE HONDA INDY GRAND PRIX OF ALABAMA PRESENTED BY LEGACY
The Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by Legacy was filled with ups and downs for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. DRR pilots, Justin Wilson (No. 22 Charter) and Simon Pagenaud (No. 24 Ipiranga/Blazemaster), who started 5th and 23rd respectively, would battle their way through the field all day long in round two of the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series at Barber Motorsports Park in Leeds, Alabama.
The sophomore event proved to be all about survival mode. Although the picturesque 17-turn, 2.38 mile road course was exactly the type of circuit that suited Wilson and Pagenaud, it was a matter of hanging on and keeping your nose clean. For DRR, it was all about staying in the game and making the right move. As the green flag dropped, both Wilson and Pagenaud made it through the first lap safely and managed to stay clear of the carnage on the first lap.
It was looking positive for Wilson in the beginning. At the start, the Brit made it through the first lap flawlessly, only losing one position to Oriol Servia, going from 5th to 6th place, before the caution would come out. On the Lap 3 restart it quickly became a matter of fuel save and Wilson quickly settled into a groove as he comfortably held his 6th position into the first pit stop on Lap 30. With a strong and fast stop by the No. 22 Charter crew, Wilson got back out there in 6th place and got back into a rhythm.
Unfortunately, the Lap 40 restart would be the beginning of the end for the Brit. He lost two spots on the restart going back to P8. Not long after on another restart on Lap 45, the left wing of Takuma Sato cut his left rear tire, forcing Wilson to pit out of sequence and he would drop back to P18. The yellow would come back out on Lap 57 and Wilson would pit on Lap 59 for fuel, tires and to replace his wrist brace that came off, which saw him move up to P15. On Lap 64 Wilson's day would come to a hault after he made contact with Rafael Matos in Turn 5. He would end the day with a 19th place finish.
It's a racing deal. Sorry for these guys. Had a good car.
It was a different story for Pagenaud. The reigning ALMS champion made his IZOD IndyCar debut this weekend as he filled in for the injured Ana Beatriz. The Frenchman's goal for the weekend was to learn and adapt and that's exactly what he did. Pagenaud stayed out of trouble on the start and played it cautiously in the beginning. As the green flag dropped, the 26 year-old gained a few positions. On Lap 9, Pagenaud would come in on an alternate strategy where he had a flawless pit stop to get fuel and tires. He would quickly settle into a groove. On Laps 38 and 59 Pagenaud would come in again for fuel and tires. After the last stop, the Frenchman filtered back up to 8th position after being in 11th place. In the end he battled Helio Castroneves for 7th position, but wasn't able to get him. When the checkers came out, Pagenaud brought the Ipiranga/Blazemaster car home in 8th place.
I got the opportunity to drive and I'm really happy to come back with 8th position.
The Indianapolis-based squad will turn the cars around in Alabama and will head straight to California for the third round of the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. For more updates on the team, please visit www.dreyerreinboldracing.com.
What they have to say about the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by Legacy...
Justin Wilson, No. 22 Charter: "It's a disappointing way to end the day. When I look back on it it's a racing incident, but when I was racing with Rafael he left me plenty of room on the way in. As we got half way through the corner, my car naturally pushes in the middle. He was able to turn in a bit more. I was hoping he was going to leave me another lane - he had a full car's width on the outside of him. But it's frustrating. It's a racing deal. Sorry for these guys. Had a good car. We were at the front at the start and just kept being knocked around in all those restarts. Kept losing places. Pretty crazy out there.
On the wrist: It wasn't too bad. The carbon brace I was wearing broke around Lap 45, so I threw that out of the car and grabbed another one on the next pit stop. I put that on under the yellow. It doesn't feel too bad right now, but I'm sure it will be different later.
Simon Pagenaud, No. 24 Ipiranga/Blazemaster: "It was good fun and good racing. I want to thank everyone in the IZOD IndyCar Series for welcoming so well and making my life easy this weekend. I got the opportunity to drive and I'm really happy to come back with 8th position. Following Helio Castroneves at the end of the race was something that I really enjoyed. More importantly, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing did a fantastic job and gave me a great opportunity to showcase what I can do. I really enjoyed it and I wish Bia to recover very soon.
On the race: I had to get used to the restarts, but we had a few so I got used to them at the end and I picked up a couple of positions. I didn't want to be too aggressive at the start because we were so far back and there was no reason to be and the race was long. I saw that people were being aggressive and I decided to wait until the last third of the race, which was the plan and strategy all along. The team put me in a good position with the pit stops and we were able to pick up a lot of positions on the restarts at the end. The Ipiranga/Blazemaster car was really good at the end of the race and we could turn really fast laps with Helio and I'm very happy that we were able to keep up with him. It was a very good race and very enjoyable."