Justin eager to sample Iowa's short oval
Justin and Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing (NHLR) made the most of a rare weekend off from competition in the IndyCar Series and return to action refreshed and focused on the next task - Sunday's Iowa Corn Indy 250 at Iowa Speedway, the first of six races in six weekends. Justin enjoyed the short break and is ready to get back on track.
"I'm looking forward to getting back behind the wheel of the McDonald's car after a weekend off," said Justin. "I got to spend some time at home with (wife) Julia and (daughter) Jane, who is doing really well. She has doubled in weight since her birth and I've had a lot more practice now on things like changing her diapers. I think my technique is pretty good! We've also been able to spend some time with Julia's parents who came over from the U.K. and have had some good, quality time together."
The paternity theme in the McDonald's team continues this weekend, as Justin's race engineer Mike Talbott will miss the Iowa race to be with his wife who is due to give birth to their second child. Senior engineer Craig Hampson, who was race engineer for Sebastien Bourdais, will replace Mike this weekend before returning home to also await the birth of his second child. Maybe it should be the No. 02 Happy Meal car…!
The 0.875-mile Iowa Speedway hosted its first IndyCar Series event in 2007 so although the track will be new to Justin and NHLR, long-time series competitors don't have the advantage that comes with multiple years of experience on the track. The official start of the weekend is on Saturday, but because only twelve of the 27 drivers entered in this weekend's race competed here last year, the series has added four hours of testing on Friday which should give Justin, team-mate Graham Rahal and their engineers an opportunity to work on their setups.
The upcoming six week stretch includes three oval races (Iowa, Richmond, Nashville) and three on road or street courses (Watkins Glen, Mid-Ohio, Edmonton) and the diversity of tracks appeals to Justin.
"I think we are learning a lot of valuable lessons on the ovals right now," he said. "I also think we've not shown our true potential yet, but we will. It just takes time to work everything out. I personally like the diversity of racing on road and street courses, short ovals and speedways as you have to be a very complete driver to win on all these disciplines. I'm excited to get on with the next phase of the season."
Friday's test session is followed by practice and qualifying on Saturday and the race can be seen on live on Sunday, June 22 at 1 p.m. EDT on ABC. Coverage in the UK is scheduled to start at 6.30pm BST on Sky Sports 1. As always, fans can follow the action from every on-track session via the official website of the IndyCar Series, www.indycar.com. It will also be broadcast live on IMS Radio Network and XM Radio Channels 144 and 145.