Justin and the No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda team scored an 8th place finish in Sunday’s Honda Grand Prix of Alabama, but the result failed to do justice to a very fast race car and an impressive drive by Justin after a pit-stop problem took them out of contention for a top-5 finish.
Starting from 8th on the primary Firestone tyres, Justin took advantage of a messy start to vault to P5 by the end of the first lap and then ran in P6 for most of the opening stint.
But a slow first pit-stop on Lap 27 dropped him to P16, putting him back among slower cars just at the point when he could have capitalised on the switch to the softer, faster Firestone reds.
As always, Justin dug deep and his strong pace on the reds allowed him to gradually claw back some of the lost ground. He pitted for the second time on Lap 46 from P12 for scuffed reds, and his stunning out laps on cold tyres saw him climb to P9 as the race entered the final pit window.
By staying out as long as possible, Justin was able to grab another spot at his third pit-stop on Lap 69 and he entered his final stint on used reds in 8th position.
But by then the field was too spread out and the absence of any yellow caution flags prevented any further gain before the chequered flag flew on Lap 90.
Although the result fell short of expectations, Justin was pleased that the No. 19 car was clearly back in the mix again.
“Overall it was a pretty good day for the No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda,” said Justin. “We got held up a bit on our first pit stop and that cost us some track positions.
But we were able to battle back and regain most of them. The Dale Coyne Racing team gave me a great car all weekend and we were able to secure another Top 10 finish.
I would have loved to finish higher, but I am satisfied with eighth place. I was telling my engineer that it is so nice having an offensive car compared to a defensive one.
We were able to overtake a lot of cars during the race. We will keep plugging away and hopefully improve on our finish today in two weeks in Long Beach.”