Steve Owen scored Dick Johnson Racing’s best qualifying start position of the 2012 season today in Race 15 of the V8 Supercar Championship in Townsville.
After yesterday’s controversial but ingenious tyre usage strategy, the team went into qualifying with an unusual tyre bank. But excellent driving by Owen and a great set up by the V.I.P. Petfoods crew, despite using older tyres, gained a 2nd row start for the #49 car in P4.
James Moffat and Steve Johnson again qualified close together in P14 and P15 respectively. The trio were joined by Dean Fiore in 24th.
Celebrating a great achievement this weekend, Steve Johnson lined up on the Townsville street circuit for the 400th race start of his career. A feat only matched by Lowndes and Ingall.
The first few corners of the opening lap were tough for Owen who was boxed out of position by faster running cars, dropping 4 places to 8th. The car #49 driver suffered radio failure during this early part of the race and the team were forced to send Team Strategist, Paul Morris onto the wall to communicate with Owen via pit boards. But the V.I.P. Petfoods Falcon held onto a top 10 finish until the dying stages of the race.
Blake Smith, Engineer, car #49, “We had radio issues which made managing strategy very difficult. We got beat up at the end which cost us a top 10 finish, but we’ll work that out in the stewards room. We were pleased to see we were as fast as the leaders in the dying stages of the race, which helps our confidence leading into our home track in Ipswich.”
Dean Fiore and the Jim Beam Devil’s Cut Falcon made great progress throughout the race, moving through the field on two occasions. He made up 6 places from his qualifying position race.
Dean’s Engineer, Nathan McColl, “It was good to collect some points from this race. We had competitive pace in the middle and were gaining on the cars in front of us. We gambled on the last safety car but we didn’t quite have the tyres in the end. Dean drove a great, focused race and we are looking forward to putting on a good show for our local fans at the next race at Queensland Raceway.”
The Team Norton DJR Falcon of James Moffat had a tough race today, dropping 10 spots from his start position.
Greg Wheeler, car #18 Engineer, “We made a strategic tyre and fuel gamble that didn’t pay of for the 18 car.”
Despite being bolstered by the support he received for his 400th start today, Steve Johnson suffered chronic neck and shoulder pain throughout the race, compounding each time he hit a curb. He pushed on and achieved a solid 13th position finish, gaining 2 places on his start.
Mark Fenning, Engineer on Steve Johnson’s Jim Beam Honey Falcon, “We made small steps in the right direction today, and had good tyre life. We were strong at the end when we had guys behind us on fresher tyres.”
The team head home tonight and will start preparing the cars for their home race at Willowbank at the start of August.