Justin 17th And 21st In Texas double-header
Justin and the Dreyer & Reinbold team had a drama-free, but ultimately disappointing pair of races in the Firestone Twin 275s at Texas Motor Speedway, with the No. 22 Z-Line Designs car finishing 17th and 21st in the double-header.
Despite never having quite found the pace in Friday’s practice and qualifying sessions, a final practice speed of 212.881 mph was good enough for 11th quickest and suggested that the No. 22 car might have the pace to run with the leaders in the two night races.
Starting from 27th place on the grid in race one, it was always going to be a question of trying to make and take any passing opportunities that arose during the 114 laps of the first event. By Lap 10, Justin had progressed to P23, and was up to P21 by Lap 30. He came in for a stop on Lap 48, and settled into P21, a position he occupied from Lap 60 to Lap 94. With lapped traffic proving an obstruction, it was hard to make progress. The second pit stop came on Lap 97. The one and only caution period came on Lap 94. Following the restart, Justin improved to 17th position by working his way around the high line, and took the chequered flag one lap behind winner Dario Franchitti (Chip Ganassi Racing). The podium was completed by Franchitt’s team-mate Scott Dixon and Will Power (Team Penske) who took third. Justin’s Dreyer & Reinbold team-mates Ana Beatriz and Davey Hamilton came home 22nd and 27th respectively.
“The first race was crazy,” said Justin. “I did manage to pass some cars a couple of times, and tried to be aggressive, but then lapped cars got in the way. We didn't make up as much ground as I was hoping for, but I'm fairly happy with it."
The starting order for the second race was drawn by lot, and clearly the gods were not smiling on the Z-Line Designs team. With 30 runners in total, drawing the shortest of short straws Justin was allocated a P30 grid position. Nevertheless, a charge on the opening lap saw him gain seven places. There was little else of note during the remainder of the short race, with Justin being recorded as 25th, 23rd and 22nd respectively at Laps 30, 40 and 50. His pit stops too were uneventful, on Lap 52 and Lap 96. The race was the first caution-free event in 23 races at Texas Motor Speedway, albeit over what would normally count as half-distance. Justin finished in 21st, one lap down with Ana Beatriz and Davey Hamilton 22nd and 25th respectively. Occupying the podium once more, but this time on the top step, was Will Power who scored his first oval victory. Scott Dixon was again second while Ryan Briscoe (Team Penske) rounded out the top three.
“The car was quite fast in race two,” said Justin. “But it was a handful and I struggled with oversteer. We hung in there and tried to do the best that we could. It's been a long night, but I enjoyed the two races. I wasn’t keen on having to draw for grid position, especially because I managed to draw last and I would prefer a different system. Other than that I think that it was quite a good evening for the fans and hopefully it was interesting for them. We will learn what we can from this weekend and try to be quicker in the next race."
Next up in the Indycar Series is the Milwaukee 225 this coming Sunday (19th June).