Justin takes first IndyCar Series victory in Detroit Justin claimed his first IndyCar Series victory by winning Sunday's Detroit Indy Grand Prix presented by Firestone. The win was his fifth in Champ Car and IndyCar competition and the second...
Justin takes first IndyCar Series victory in Detroit
Justin claimed his first IndyCar Series victory by winning Sunday's Detroit Indy Grand Prix presented by Firestone. The win was his fifth in Champ Car and IndyCar competition and the second for the Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing team this year.
"The McDonald's team did a fantastic job," said Justin. "It was a long tough day, but we managed to stay clean and we got great strategy and good pit stops. I was so desperate to get a victory this year, my first one in IndyCar (Series) and my first one with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing. This means a lot. It's the most important win of my career."
Justin started from fourth and moved up to third place by staying out on track behind Helio Castroneves (Team Penske) and Oriol Servia (KV Racing Technology) when race leader Scott Dixon (Chip Ganassi Racing) pitted early under a full course yellow on Lap 19. Having saved fuel in the early stages of the race, he was also able to go a lap longer than Servia before his first pit-stop on Lap 32. As he rejoined the race in second place Justin sensed that the No.02 McDonald's car had the pace to win.
"The more tyre rubber that went down, the better it got," explained Justin. "I was very pleased with the way the car was working. Once we went a lap further than Oriol Servia on that first stop, I figured, ‘OK. We've got something we can race with'."
Justin made an initial challenge on Helio Castroneves between Laps 39 and 44, before dropping back into a comfortable second place to save fuel. His final pit-stop of the afternoon on Lap 56 was uneventful, but the decisive moment in Justin's race came after a restart on Lap 69. On cold tyres, he put pressure on Castroneves and was blocked while in the process of overtaking the Brazilian into Turn 13. After giving clear warnings during the pre-race driver briefing about penalties for blocking, IndyCar Series race officials ordered Castroneves to give up the place.
"Helio slid a little bit through Turns 10, 11, and 12," said Justin. "When he went into Turn 12 on the brake he overshot. I went back to the inside and got some great traction. And before we even got to full power, I was inching alongside him. I thought ‘well, this is pretty straightforward. By the time we hit the brakes, I'm going to be axle to axle. I'm on the inside, it's clear cut.' I was surprised he came over, and then he came over more to the point I had to lift or we both were going to crash. I was a little upset at the time, but I was relieved when the officials put it right."
Justin moved into first place on Lap 73 and went on to lead the final 15 laps of the race. He also set the fastest lap of the race on Lap 85, two laps before the chequered flag.
"It's an honour to win a race for Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing," concluded Justin. "We've got three fantastic owners who all add something to the team in their own unique way and I'm very privileged to be driving for them. It also means a lot to get this first victory for McDonald's in our first season of IndyCar Series racing when times have been so difficult. We've had so much happen this year. There have been a lot of occasions where I felt we were in contention for at least a podium if not a win and things haven't gone our way. You've got to keep picking yourself up and moving on and I'm very happy to have finally got a win this year."
Justin's team-mate Graham Rahal finished 13th. He was running in 6th in the latter stages of the race, but was forced to make a late stop for fuel after following an alternate pit-stop strategy.
For the second time this year, Justin has been nominated for the Firestone Tire-ific Move of the Race. Voting takes place on the home page of www.indycar.com until Wednesday.
Justin and the team will have to celebrate on the hop this week as they prepare for the final race in the points championship at Chicagoland Speedway next Sunday 7 September.