Early exit for Justin from Grand Prix of Alabama
Justin and Dreyer & Reinbold Racing’s Charter Media team had a day to forget at Barber Motorsports Park on Sunday. Justin was classified 19th after the No. 22 car suffered race-ending damage in the Honda Grand Prix of Alabama following contact with another car at two-thirds distance. Will Power took victory for Team Penske, with Chip Ganassi Racing team-mates Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti taking 2nd and 3rd respectively. Simon Pagenaud, standing in for Justin’s regular team-mate Ana Beatriz, had a strong run to 8th in the No. 24 Ipiranga/Blazemaster car.
Starting from 5th on the grid, Justin lost one spot to Oriol Servia (Newman/Haas Racing) in the scramble through Turn 1 and other skirmishes further back brought out an immediate full course caution. But after a Lap 3 restart the front-runners quickly settled into fuel-saving mode for the first stint and Justin held onto a comfortable 6th place into his first pit-stop on Lap 30. Any hopes of moving forward were dashed soon after, however, when he dropped two spots to P8 in the argy-bargy of a Lap 40 restart. Soon after, on another restart on Lap 45, the front left wing of Takuma Sato (KV Racing) cut Justin’s left rear tyre, forcing Justin to pit out of sequence and dropping him back to 18th. Other incidents further up the field saw Justin move up to 15th, before his race finally ended on Lap 64 following contact with the AFS Racing entry of Rafael Matos in Turn 5.
“It was a disappointing way to end the day for the Charter Media team,” said Justin. “Rafael left me plenty of room on the way into the corner and, as we got half way through, my car naturally pushed (understeered) in the middle. Rafael turned in a bit more than me and we made contact. I’d hoped he was going to leave me more room – he had a full car’s width on the outside of him. It’s a racing incident, but it’s very frustrating. We had a good car and were running at the front at the start, but we just kept getting knocked around in all those restarts and losing places. It was pretty crazy out there.”
It was pretty crazy out there.
Justin drove at Barber with an injured wrist, after suffering a small fracture to one of his wrist bones at the season opener at St. Petersburg a fortnight ago. He experimented with different wrist supports throughout the weekend, but in the end favoured a specially designed carbon fibre brace. However, even that was unable to stand up to the vigours of the race, as Justin explained.
“The wrist wasn’t too bad,” he added. “But the carbon brace I was wearing broke around Lap 45, so I threw that one out of the car, grabbed a spare one on the next pitstop and put that on under the yellow. It doesn’t feel too bad right now, at but I’m sure it will be different later.”
Justin and DRR have a week to regroup before next weekend’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.