Justin content with 12th in Twin Ring Motegi debut Justin and Dale Coyne Racing put in a solid performance to take 12th place in Saturday's Indy Japan 300, their first race at Twin Ring Motegi. Starting from 9th, they weren't quite able to match...
Justin content with 12th in Twin Ring Motegi debut
Justin and Dale Coyne Racing put in a solid performance to take 12th place in Saturday's Indy Japan 300, their first race at Twin Ring Motegi. Starting from 9th, they weren't quite able to match their qualifying pace, but fought a determined race in or around the top 10 for all 200 laps. Scott Dixon led home a Chip Ganassi Racing 1-2 from team-mate Dario Franchitti, while Graham Rahal took third for Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing.
After the inevitable first lap frenzy, the #18 Z-Line Designs car settled into a comfortable 12th position and retained that through the first pit-stops under green flag conditions on Lap 48. Justin moved up to P10 during his second stint when two cars in front of him pitted early due to fuelling or mechanical issues.
Although he wasn't under threat from cars behind, Justin was unable to make headway, and by Lap 80 he had fallen into the clutches of then race leader Dario Franchitti to go a lap down. That effectively put a glass ceiling on the #18 car's progress, irrespective of the two full course yellows that emerged later in the race.
Justin was still 10th by the time of the third and final pit-stops on Lap 153, but shortly after the #18 car pitted a full course caution on Lap 161 interrupted the flow of other pit-stops and Justin dropped a place to 11th as these cycled through. The last 29 green flag laps saw Justin battling it out with Helio Castroneves (Team Penske) and Tony Kanaan (Andretti Green Racing), who were also a lap down, for positions 10 to 12. In the end, the #18 car didn't have the pace to hang on and Justin was forced to settle for 12th.
"Overall the race went well," said Justin. "The Z-Line Designs team did a great job in the pit-stops and the car was pretty well balanced. But I was struggling to keep up on the straights and I think we had a little too much downforce. I had some good battles and some close calls, especially in the last 25 laps. I thought I'd crashed on the exit of Turn 2 near the end of the race, but fortunately it came back straight. All in all it's not a bad result for our first time out on this track. We've learned a lot and it will be valuable experience for next year."
The IndyCar Series now heads back to the US for the 2009 season finale at Florida's Homestead-Miami Speedway on Oct. 10. Justin goes into the final race aiming to hold on to 10th in the championship standings. Scott Dixon now leads the standings with 570 points, followed by Dario Franchitti, who has 565. Ryan Briscoe (562 points), who went into the Motegi race with a 25-point lead over Franchitti and a 32-point lead over Dixon, finished 18th after a self-inflicted accident while exiting pit-lane.