Justin Wilson Kansas Race Report
Justin led for the first time on an oval in the IndyCar Series and finished a strong ninth in the No. 02 McDonald's car at Sunday's Road Runner Turbo Indy 300 at Kansas Speedway. His Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing team-mate Graham Rahal finished 12th on his IndyCar Series oval debut. Chip Ganassi Racing drivers Dan Wheldon and Scott Dixon were first and third respectively while Tony Kanaan was runner up for Andretti Green Racing.
"The McDonald's car was great in traffic and when I was in a draft," said Justin. "It was great to be able to keep up and start to race people. I was enjoying myself and having fun. As soon as we lost the draft we struggled to keep up with the pace. That's the part where these other teams have had years of experience on us, so hopefully we will close some of that gap over the next couple of weeks. Generally I'm just very pleased with how the McDonald's car ran and I feel like we are starting to be able to race well."
Justin started the race in 22nd place and took advantage of the first caution period on Lap 4 to top off his fuel, putting him on an alternative strategy to the leaders. When the rest of the field pitted on Lap 26 during a caution period, Justin stayed out and inherited the lead. Once racing conditions resumed, Justin was passed by Dixon, but he remained in the top three for five laps.
"We learned a little bit by leading the race and running in the front pack," explained Justin. "The leaders can run a bit freer so they can draft right by you, but you can pull in behind them just sit and hold their draft for a little while until they pull away. We learned a little bit by doing that."
For most of the race Justin was running comfortably in the midfield and was in 11th place by the time of his fifth pit stop on Lap 151. The most significant drama of his race occurred here when he became trapped behind the slower car of EJ Viso on the pit lane. He lost further time when the HVM driver mistakenly chose Ed Carpenter's pit box next to Justin's instead of his own.
"We lost a lot of time with that," said Justin. "We had five seconds on the leaders and came out a second behind them so we lost position because of that. It was frustrating, but that's how it goes."
Justin emerged in 11th place and one lap down on the leaders. He gained two positions in the concluding stages of the race when Danica Patrick retired with a mechanical failure and Ed Carpenter had to make a late race pit for fuel. Like Homestead, NHLR gave Justin a standing ovation when he came to the pits at the end of the event.
"All in all it's been a good experience today," concluded Justin. "It feels great to race like this on an oval where we were flat out and it was fun to race. We need to work on some little things, but I think we have a good foundation to build on." motorsport.com