Sears Point: Justin Wilson race report

Top ten finish for Justin at Infineon Raceway Justin started seventh and finished ninth in the PEAK Antifreeze & Motor Oil Indy Grand Prix at Infineon Raceway. Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing (NHLR) team-mate Graham Rahal, who left the grid from...

Top ten finish for Justin at Infineon Raceway

Justin started seventh and finished ninth in the PEAK Antifreeze & Motor Oil Indy Grand Prix at Infineon Raceway. Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing (NHLR) team-mate Graham Rahal, who left the grid from P15, took the chequered flag four seconds ahead of Justin. Rahal had pitted twice while the 02 McDonald's car of Justin came in three times. Thus it was fuel strategy rather than race pace that determined the outcome of this race.

When Marty Roth (Roth Racing) span his No. 25 car to bring out the race's only yellow flag after 16 laps, the 02 McDonald's team had to decide whether to follow the leader (Helio Castroneves, Team Penske) down pit road, or to stay out on track. Such split-second decisions are always hard, and there are no championship points for hindsight, but events went on to show that the Rahal half of NHLR had got it right.

On the opening lap of the race, Justin went past Oriel Servia (KV Racing) and stayed sixth. He set about conserving his fuel until Roth's indiscretion caused an about-turn in team thinking.

In the caution period, Ryan Hunter-Reay (Rahal Letterman Racing) went off track and this put Justin in fifth, however, race control decided that the American driver should be allowed to reclaim sixth position. When the track went green, Justin and Hunter-Reay's car accidentally touched as as they went into a corner and this sent the Rahal Letterman pilot into a spin and back behind Justin again.

As those who had not pitted earlier began to come in for tyres and fuel, Justin ran as high as fourth. Then, on Lap 44 he came in for the second of his three stops and returned in 17th position. The last stop came on Lap 58, by which time the 02 car was up to seventh but had been hampered by backmarkers. The traffic didn't improve and it was some time before Justin could get past Mario Moraes (Dale Coyne Racing) and Buddy Rice (Dreyer & Reinbold Racing). Asthe chequered flag came, the gap to Rahal had been cut to four seconds. On another day and another strategy, Justin would have been somewhere up there with race winner Castroneves, runner-up Ryan Briscoe (Team Penske) and third placed man Tony Kanaan (Andretti Green Racing).

Reflecting on his day's work, Justin said: "The McDonald's team was running strongly but once that yellow happened it really mixed everything up and we had to decide which strategy to go on. Helio was on the same strategy and he won the race but he was able to get by people. A couple of guys between me and him couldn't get past the backmarkers and it allowed the people on the other strategy to capitalise. It's disappointing because I thought the McDonald's car was good and we had a strong day but we couldn't get a result out of it. We did everything we could so we just have to move on to the next one."

The 22 points awarded for ninth place see Justin still ranked 16th in the IndyCar Series standings with 271 points, 12 ahead of Rahal, with only two points-paying races left this season. The first of those is the Firestone Indy Grand Prix of Belle Isle, in Detroit on Sunday 31 August.

-credit: justinwilson.co.uk

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Helio Castroneves , Tony Kanaan , Graham Rahal , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Ryan Briscoe , Marty Roth , Mario Moraes , Dale Coyne
Teams Team Penske , Dreyer & Reinbold Racing , Dale Coyne Racing