Justin takes 4th in eventful Grand Prix of Cleveland Justin and the ...
Justin takes 4th in eventful Grand Prix of Cleveland
Justin and the #9 CDW team put in a hard drive to take 4th place at the Grand Prix of Cleveland, while his RSPORTS team-mate Alex Tagliani was 6th in the #8 LXN2 car. But, as the final results showed, a podium finish required a bit more pace and luck with fuel strategy too. Paul Tracy made five pit-stops - including two in short succession for new front wings - but bizarrely also lifted the trophy for first place for Forsythe after winning a high stakes fuel gamble. Runner up was Robert Doornbos (Minardi Team USA), in spite of a pit lane drive-through penalty for blocking. Third place finisher was PKV's Neel Jani, also on an out-of-sequence strategy. All three benefited from full course yellows at key points in the race, including - in PT's case - some of their own making.
For once the Grand Prix of Cleveland got underway cleanly through Turn 1 after another successful standing start. But it didn't take long for normal service to resume at a track which seems to attract more than its fair share of mishaps. On lap 4, Paul Tracy made an over-ambitious attempt on Graham Rahal (Newman Haas Lanigan), with the ensuing contact bringing out the first full course caution. Three laps, and one new nose later, he ran into the back of Bruno Junqueira (Dale Coyne), causing another yellow. Sebastien Bourdais (Newman Haas Lanigan) and Will Power (Team Australia) fought over the lead for most of the race, but the former retired on Lap 67 with an engine-related problem, bringing out the last yellow flag of the race. Simultaneously, Will suffered a puncture which dropped him down the order.
With chaos all around him, Justin fought his own race, battling at various points with Dan Clarke (Minardi Team USA), who later span out of contention, and then Simon Pagenaud (Team Australia), overtaking the Frenchman after the final stops. Although he was tantalisingly close to Neel Jani at the end, Justin wasn't able to catch the Swiss before the chequered flag.
"Well, a top five finish is not a bad result", commented Justin. "This was just one of those races where the cars that pitted off-sequence were able to be on top at the end. So, we did the best that we could, but it just wasn't our luck. The #9 CDW car was good this afternoon and the crew did an excellent job for me in the pits. We just have to make sure that we can have more chances like this and try to be stronger in the next race. We're not quite quick enough yet, but we're close and I hope that in Mont-Tremblant we can put the #9 CDW car back on the podium."