Justin rallies to 7th after Toronto roller-coaster
Justin and Dreyer & Reinbold Racing experienced the full range of emotions in a caution-filled Honda Indy Toronto on Sunday. Starting from pole position, the No. 22 Z-Line Designs car led for a total of 32 laps, but Justin was forced to settle for a hard-fought 7th place after a costly spin late in the race dropped him to 14th. Will Power took his fourth victory of the season for Team Penske, with Dario Franchitti (Chip Ganassi Racing) and Ryan Hunter-Reay (Andretti Autosport) rounding out the podium.
Though the race got underway cleanly, cautions and re-starts were to prove the bane of Justin’s day. He led through Turn 1 and comfortably paced the field on his primary Firestones until the first caution on Lap 17, chased by the red-shod Helio Castroneves (Team Penske) and Ryan Hunter-Reay. Pitting on Lap 18, Justin lost three positions after his exit was impeded by another car, so with Paul Tracy (KV Racing) and Vitor Meira (AJ Foyt Racing) staying out on an alternate fuel strategy, Justin found himself down to 6th at the restart.
The next caution, for Helio’s crash at Turn 3, flew just a lap later, and through a combination of on-track passing and PT and Vitor pitting, Justin was back up to 3rd, behind Will Power and race-leader Dario Franchitti, as they prepared for their second and final pit-stop of the day. Justin and Will stayed out a lap longer than Dario and this, combined with brilliant pit work by the Z-Line Designs crew on Lap 55, saw Justin beat Will out of the pits and both cars leapfrog Dario, with Justin taking the lead.
Over the next nine laps Justin built up a commanding, four second gap, but it was all for nought when yet another caution brought out the safety car again on Lap 66. On the Lap 72 restart, Justin struggled for grip coming off Turn 11 and Will Power got by on the outside of Turn 1. The No. 22 car continued to struggle for grip throughout the lap until Justin was unable to control a slide and found himself facing the wrong way in Turn 8, a scene reminiscent of his 2007 Toronto race when Sebastian Bourdais tapped him into a spin.“As I went through Turn 7 I felt the car get sideways, so I got on the brakes,”
explained Justin. “But I just locked the rears all the way through the brake zone and couldn’t get them unlocked enough to make the corner. At first I thought I had a puncture on the left rear, but I think it was probably just pick-up from while we were running under caution – I hadn’t cleaned the tyres off enough before the restart.”
As in 2007, Justin was forced to let cars past, but kept the engine going and spun round before charging back through the field. Unlike ’07, however, 15 laps wasn’t enough time to repair the damage. Justin lived up to his “wild dog” nickname all the way to the chequered flag, hunting down and passing PT, Hideki Mutoh (Newman/Haas Racing), Dan Wheldon (Panther Racing), Vitor Meira, Simona de Silvestro (HVM Racing) and Marco Andretti (Andretti Autosport), before finishing right on the tail of sixth-placed Danica Patrick (Andretti Autosport) at the finish.
For Justin, though, that wasn’t nearly enough. “It’s tough,”
he said afterwards. “Everyone at Dreyer & Reinbold Racing and the guys on the Z-Line Designs car deserve so much better than that. We’ve made such great strides this weekend and for that to happen while we’re leading 15 laps from the end is so disappointing. I can’t apologise enough and I just want to move on to Edmonton now.”< previous item next item >