St. Pete: Justin Wilson race report

Justin pleased with 2nd in St. Petersburg 29-March-2010 - Justin and Dreyer & Reinbold Racing showed they'll be a force to be reckoned with this year when Justin took runner-up spot in the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on Monday. The No....

Justin pleased with 2nd in St. Petersburg

29-March-2010 - Justin and Dreyer & Reinbold Racing showed they'll be a force to be reckoned with this year when Justin took runner-up spot in the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on Monday. The No. 22 Z-Line Designs car crossed the finish line less than a second behind race winner Will Power (Team Penske) and ahead of Ryan Briscoe (Team Penske) who rounded out a British Commonwealth lock-out on the podium. Justin's team-mate Mike Conway (No. 24 Dad's Root Beer) was on a strong charge through the field when he had contact with another car, ending his day on Lap 65.

Held on Monday morning after Sunday's postponement due to thunderstorms, the race started on slick tyres, but with residual damp patches and a green track the cars tip-toed around Turn 1 and Justin dropped back from his P4 starting slot to P6. He got past Tony Kanaan on Lap 21 to move up to P5 and was chasing the Brazilian's Andretti Autosport team-mate Marco Andretti for P4 when a full course caution was called on Lap 25. The field split into two groups -- one, including Justin, who pitted under the yellow on Lap 27 -- and another group who pitted under green several laps later. As these cars cycled through their stops Justin found himself back in P6, briefly dropping to P7 when Mike Conway got by on Lap 44.

At the next full course caution on Lap 47 Justin stayed out rather than pitting and took the restart in 2nd position behind Will Power. They held those positions through the next green flag period and caught a lucky break when the next yellow fell just at the outer end of their pit-stop window allowing them to pit with the rest of the field. An excellent stop by the No. 22 Z-Line Designs crew saw Justin emerge in 4th, behind Power's No. 12 Penske, EJ Viso (KV Racing) and an out-of-sequence Vitor Meira (AJ Foyt Racing). When Meira pitted and Viso's gearbox failed Justin moved up to 2nd and after the final restart on Lap 78 the scene was set for a thrilling, 22-lap run to the finish.

From the pace at the front it might as well have been qualifying. Initially Justin was in a Penske sandwich, trying to catch Power and keep Ryan Briscoe at bay, but as the laps ticked off he built up a comfortable 2s margin over Briscoe and could focus 100% on trying to get past the leader. Although he kept the pressure on Power, Justin was unable to pressure the Australian into a significant error and they crossed the line less than a second apart. The blistering pace over the last 21 laps was illustrated by the 17s gap from 4th placed Helio Castroneves (Team Penske) back to Dario Franchitti (Chip Ganassi Racing) in P5.

"I think that we had a good race. We just decided to copy Will (Power)," joked Justin. "Whatever he does seems to be working these days, so we just followed him every step of the way and finished right behind him. The Z-Line Designs crew did a fantastic last pit stop and that's really what decided the finishing order. That led us into the position behind Will and we just hung on and turned out to be second. I'm really pleased with the Z-Line Designs car today and with all of the guys that work on it. It was a great result."

Will Power leads the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series by a commanding 54 points, but today's result moves Justin up to joint 2nd on 59 points. The next race is the Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park on April 11.

-source: justinwilson.co.uk

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Helio Castroneves , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Ryan Briscoe , Marco Andretti , Chip Ganassi , Mike Conway , Will Power , EJ Viso , Vitor Meira
Teams Andretti Autosport , Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing , Dreyer & Reinbold Racing