Justin takes 2nd place in Grand Prix of Portland Justin celebrated his first podium finish of the 2007 Champ Car season with 2nd place in the Grand Prix of Portland. After the disappointments of the first three races, pole and a podium was a...
Justin takes 2nd place in Grand Prix of Portland
Justin celebrated his first podium finish of the 2007 Champ Car season with 2nd place in the Grand Prix of Portland. After the disappointments of the first three races, pole and a podium was a great result by anyone's standards. But for Justin, the outcome was bitter-sweet as a dominant, early race lead was inexplicably eroded by eventual race-winner Sebastien Bourdais (Newman Haas Lanigan).
After a clean standing start - the first in Champ Car history - Justin made it into turn 1 ahead of his front row rival Robert Doornbos (Minardi Team USA). He immediately put the hammer down, running up to a second a lap faster than the rest of the field on the softer red Bridgestone tyre compound and establishing what seemed, at the time, to be an unassailable, 18 second lead. He ran longer stints than his rivals, and had clean pit-stops from the #9 CDW crew, but for whatever reason - whether tyres or cooler track conditions - the pace just wasn't there in the second and final stints of the race. Once Sebastien Bourdais had grabbed 2nd place after the first pit-stops, Justin's fortunes were reversed and he was steadily reeled in by the Frenchman who took the lead at turn 1 on lap 55.
"It's good to be on the podium again," said Justin. "The #9 CDW/RSPORTS team did a great job all weekend and I'm really proud of them. The start went well. I got a little too much wheelspin, but with the inside line I just braked at the same time as Robert which made it pretty simple. For the first stint things were working really well. I was just cruising really and very comfortable with the car. In the second stint I was expecting to pick up the pace, but it never happened which was surprising. We'll have to look at the data to see if we can figure out what happened, but ultimately we weren't quick enough for Sebastien today."
Speaking about the turnaround in fortunes following Houston, Justin identified a clear improvement to the #9 car's competitiveness. "We're definitely heading in the right direction. Qualifying is a lot better, but there's a bit more work to do to make sure we're more competitive in the race situation. We're also working hard on getting our car down to weight, because we know we're giving away a lot of lap time there. But hopefully we can be up there again in Cleveland and challenge for the win."