Justin celebrates top 10 finish at Indianapolis 500 30-May-2010 - Justin celebrated his strongest run in the Indianapolis 500 in three attempts, leading over 10 laps en route to 7th in the No. 22 Z-Line Designs car. For Dreyer & Reinbold Racing...
Justin celebrates top 10 finish at Indianapolis 500
30-May-2010 - Justin celebrated his strongest run in the Indianapolis 500 in three attempts, leading over 10 laps en route to 7th in the No. 22 Z-Line Designs car. For Dreyer & Reinbold Racing it was a bittersweet race, however. Mike Conway (No. 24 Dad's Root Beer) and Tomas Scheckter (No. 23 Mona Vie) also led laps and helped to showcase the team's excellent form, but Conway suffered an horrific accident while battling for 7th one lap before the end of the race and was taken to hospital with leg injuries and a fractured vertebra. Dario Franchitti (Chip Ganassi Racing) won the event. The Scot led 155 of the 200 laps and was out front at the finish to take his second Indianapolis victory. Dan Wheldon (Panther Racing) was runner-up and Marco Andretti took third for Andretti Autosport.
For most of the race a decent run at the front never looked like it would be on the cards for Justin. At quarter distance, on Lap 50, the Z-Line Designs car was running 13th, and by half distance he had moved up two spots to 11th. But the next fifty laps saw Justin slip back. Shortly after a scheduled green flag pitstop on Lap 104 an ill-timed full course caution meant Justin briefly went a lap down and couldn't take positional advantage when the rest of the field pitted. He emerged in 20th and with most of the field running similar lap times he was bogged well down the field into and through his next pit-stop on Lap 140.
Shortly after three quarter distance the logjam broke when he pitted early on Lap 151 to switch to an alternate fuel strategy. When the rest of the field pitted on Lap 163 Justin stayed out, finding himself P2 to Mike Conway's P1. On Lap 178 his team-mate pitted and Justin took the lead. Several more cautions were needed for the No. 22 car to make it to the finish without stopping again and, after 11 laps of green flag running at the front, Justin was forced to make a final pitstop on Lap 189. Emerging in P15 he was able to carve his way through the field as many of those in front were forced to either slow down to save fuel or make late pitstops. By the penultimate lap he was up to P10. He was still moving forward and just behind Conway when his team-mate's car launched over the Andretti Autosport of Ryan Hunter-Heay between Turns 3 and 4 on Lap 199. The race ended under caution with Justin classified 7th.
"The Z-Line Designs car was great today," said Justin. "We tried to use pit strategy to make something happen. It felt great to lead, but we knew we were 10 laps short on fuel. The key was to push as hard as we could and try and stretch the field out, so when we did our stop we would come out in a good position. At the end everyone else was trying to stretch it out so we were able to run flat out and pass them like they were sitting still. I'm really happy with the result, but obviously we're thinking about Mike and hopefully he will be back with the team soon."
Mike Conway had surgery on Sunday night to repair fractures to his lower left leg. He also has a soft tissue injury to his lower left leg and is anticipated to have another surgical procedure later this week. Additionally, he is reported to have a compression fracture of one of his thoracic vertebrae and is being fitted for a back brace, which he will wear for three months and will prevent him from racing. Ryan Hunter-Reay suffered ligament damage to his left thumb and is expected to have surgery today (Monday, May 31st) which should allow him to race at Texas this weekend.
The next IZOD IndyCar Series race is the Firestone 550k at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday night.