Justin and the #19 Boy Scouts of America Honda team were on target for a place in the Firestone Fast Six and a realistic shot at pole for Sunday’s Honda Grand Prix of Alabama when Justin was blocked by the slower car of Takuma Sato (AJ Foyt Racing) during the second round of qualifying at Barber Motorsports Park.
Ryan Hunter-Reay (Andretti Autosport) took the Verizon P1 Award (1:07.0871s) and will be joined on the front row by Team Penske’s Will Power. Justin’s team-mate, Ana Beatriz, qualified 25th (1.08.9108s) in the #18 Ipiranga car.
In the first round of qualifying Justin was the second quickest car in Group 2 (1:07.1819s), easing comfortably into the second round or group of 12 before encountering the slower car of Sato into Turns 7 and 8.
With Barber’s relatively narrow track and limited opportunities for passing, a strong qualifying performance is even more important than usual, so Justin was justifiably angry about the incident.
“I'm really upset by what happened,” said Justin. “My red tires were just coming in and I was working on a very quick lap when Sato slowed down in front of me and didn't get out of the way. That caused me to slow down and have to go around him.
Once I came in into the pits I ran right to the INDYCAR trailer to see if they saw the incident. They took Sato's two fastest laps away, which was some sort of justice.
I just feel bad for the crew because they have given me a pole winning car this weekend. The No. 19 Boy Scouts of America Honda was really fast today. We definitely had a top three car today, possibly even a pole winning one.”