By A.J. Foyt
I came to Toronto sure of just one thing…I knew where to get a great steak—Barberian’s Steakhouse. For a Texan, that says a lot since we don’t find many good steakhouses outside of the great state of Texas.
In fact I liked Barberian’s so much, I didn’t eat anywhere else. It was great. My son Larry went with Vitor Meira to a sushi restaurant which they said was very good. Somehow I doubt it. I enjoy fish now and then but it has to be cooked—none of that raw fish for me.
The IndyCar race weekend was up and down for us but for the first time in a while, we ended the weekend on an up note. Yep, Vitor got his first top-five finish of the season in one of the wildest races we’ve seen in a while.
He qualified 14th out of 26 cars which meant the No. 14 ABC Supply Dallara/Honda was the quickest of the guys in our group who didn’t advance to the next round of qualifying. We’ve done that in four out of five races this year.
We actually had more good luck than bad luck in the race for a change. The yellows played out in our favor. Our early pit stop on lap 17 (to change from Firestone’s softer compound tires to their harder black tires) put us ahead of the leaders who didn’t pit until after a full course yellow came out on lap 31. When that happened, he moved from 17th to seventh.
Vitor slid back a couple spots when Marco Andretti and Paul Tracy did a banzai pass on him but Tracy and fellow Canadian James Hinchcliffe took each other out the following lap. That same lap, outside pole sitter Scott Dixon passed Vitor so he was eighth. When the race went green he couldn’t hold off Mike Conway (who was quick all weekend) for more than a couple laps and he slid to ninth. Still I was thinking a top-10 would be okay after the last couple races we’d had.
Then Tracy hit us (he was pretty busy in this race) and turned Vitor into the wall. He made it back to the pits and we put a new nose on the ABC Supply car…we were lucky it was a square hit and it didn’t bend the suspension. He had to pit again when the pits were opened since you can only do emergency repairs under closed pits. So now we were back to 17th and I wasn’t feeling so good about coming out of this with a top-10.
My son Larry radioed Vitor and told him to keep plugging away because the way these guys were driving, we could pick up more spots before the race was over.
Between the Canadians and the youngsters, Larry hit the nail on the head because these guys kept hitting each other! Vitor did a heckuva job missing some of that stuff. With 10 laps to go, he was 11th. Then on lap 76 there was a big pileup going into turn 1 triggered by Andretti but he got through it, which I’m sure ticked off everyone else who didn’t. Vitor snaked his way through the mess and came out in seventh.
But Vitor’s best move of the day came on the next restart! He used his overtake button to get a run on Sebastian Bourdais (a former winner in Toronto) and Vitor out-braked him going into turn 1. Bourdais did his best to squeeze Vitor into the inside wall—but Vitor held his ground forcing Bourdais to lift or crash them both. Bourdais chose discretion over stupidity (unlike most drivers that day) and they both came out the other side. Vitor had about six inches to spare. Impressive!
That same lap Scott Dixon got by Graham Rahal for second and when Ryan Hunter-Reay followed through for third, Rahal tried to shut the door but Hunter-Reay already had his foot in it. They touched, Rahal spun and hit the wall and we moved into fifth.
Dario Franchitti won it after tangling with Will Power earlier in the race which left Power struggling to climb back through the field. He was making progress when another very busy Canadian Alex Tagliani tagged him ending his day. Power wasn’t happy with either one of them. Not sure why the Canadians were so ‘busy’ except that they had a lot of fans they were trying to impress which I’m sure they did.
Dixon, Franchitti’s teammate, finished a close second. Hunter-Reay held onto third while his teammate Andretti was fourth. Vitor held off Bourdais for the final four laps to take fifth and we gained three spots in the IZOD IndyCar standings—we’re now lucky 13th and now only three points out of the top 10.
Vitor was patient and smart. He didn’t give up when it seemed that we were out of it and neither did my ABC Supply crew. Yeah luck was on our side in this one, but if you’re in racing you know all too well that sometimes you eat the bear and sometimes the bear eats you. In Toronto, that bear tasted pretty damn good!
We have this weekend off before we go back to Canada for the Honda Indy Edmonton which will be run a different section of the airport this year—hopefully a smoother one. That is one bumpy track—or was. I don’t think we’ll see a crash fest there like we had in Toronto but then again, there are so many drivers ticked off at each other that it may turn into one. Paybacks!
It should be really interesting so I hope you’ll tune into Versus on July 24th at 2 p.m. ET.