Baltimore Grand Prix

Race Report: Inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix

BALTIMORE Sept. 4, 2011—The inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix lived up to the hype and delivered on its promise of fun and excitement in the heart of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. With grandstands filled to capacity, the race appeared to be one of the best attended IZOD IndyCar events of the season.

Under grueling conditions which included high temperatures, and a narrow and very bumpy course lined by concrete barriers, Vitor Meira drove the ABC Supply car to a ninth place finish. He achieved that despite the ABC Supply crew having to replace a front nose assembly on their second pit stop due to Meira being involved in a 16-car crash on lap 38.

"The race went better than everyone thought it would,” Meira said afterwards. “We did have a 'big one' [accident] and I got caught up in it while running 9th. But the ABC Supply team did a great job replacing the broken wing and gambling on fuel. As competitive as this series is, a top-10 is a good result but to have it after all we overcame is even better!"

Meira, who qualified 14th, started in 12th position after two drivers—Tony Kanaan and Helio Castroneves—were involved in an accident in the morning warm-up which forced them to pull out their back-up cars, necessitating that they move to the back of the starting grid.

Meira picked up a couple more positions early and by lap 27, he moved into ninth, which is where he was running when there was a multi-car collision which blocked the track in Turn 9 on lap 38. Meira sustained a damaged front wing and nose assembly. He pitted when the pits were closed to have it replaced and per the rules, he needed to make another full stop when the pits were open which he did on lap 43.

He returned to the field in 18th position. By the time the green flag waved on lap 49, he was in 17th and he moved up to ninth as many drivers had problems. Due to the narrowness of the course, there was very little actual passing on the track itself. Meira held on to ninth even while conserving fuel so he could make it to the end of 75 laps without having to stop again.

The top 10 finish moved Meira from 15th to 13th in the point standings. Will Power dominated the race, winning it from the pole position. "That was the toughest race I've done all year," Power said. "I'm just exhausted, but that was a championship run." Indeed, Power moved to within five points of current point leader Dario Franchitti.

Oriol Servia, who managed to slip through that multi-car pileup, going from 13th to seventh in one lap, finished second after several cars crashed or ducked into the pits for fuel in the waning laps. Kanaan, who went from 22nd to ninth when that multi-car crash occurred, finished third. Rounding out the top five were Franchitti and Scott Dixon.

The ABC Supply team will hustle back to Texas, pull an all-nighter as they prep the cars for the Indy Japan 300, pack their equipment in crates, and load all on the transporter, which will head to Indy on Wednesday. The equipment from all the competitors will be loaded onto planes on Thursday for a September 9th departure for Tokyo.

A week later, the Indy Japan 300 will be broadcast live by Versus starting at 11:30 p.m. ET on Saturday night, September 17th. Due to damage sustained by the 1.5-mile oval track from the earthquake in Japan in the spring, the teams will be competing on the road course at Twin Ring Motegi.

Meira Qualifies 14th for inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix

BALTIMORE Sept. 3, 2011—Lucky number 14? Driving the ABC Supply No. 14, Vitor Meira will start 14th in the 14th race of the IZOD IndyCar Series Sunday afternoon as the inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix gets underway on the streets of the city’s picturesque Inner Harbor. However, Meira will be aiming to finish higher than 14th in what promises to be an action-filled event from start to finish.

Despite some delays on the first day of activity yesterday as track problems were sorted out, the Baltimore Grand Prix picked up speed today as the grounds were swarming with race fans and the track was filled with race cars from four different series including the headliner IndyCar Series.

IndyCar qualifying took place just after noon. Meira, who was in the second group of the first round of qualifying, clocked a lap of 1:21.9707 around the 2 mile, 12-turn street circuit for a speed of 89.593 mph.

“It’s better than Sonoma last week [where he started 28th] but it’s tough to be so close to transferring [into round 2] and missing it again,” Meira said. “But we are back to where we were with a good solid car on the street courses so at least we’re back in the game. There was a lot of frustration in Sonoma but that’s fading now. We still need a good run in the race then everyone will be pumped up.”

Will Power won his seventh pole position of the season and the 23rd of his career. Graham Rahal was second. Ryan Briscoe, Dario Franchitti, Sebastian Bourdais and Ryan Hunter-Reay rounded out the Firestone Fast Six.

The race broadcast begins at 2 p.m. ET on Versus.

Notes & Quotes: Inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix

• Vitor Meira on the Baltimore street course: “Everybody knows the same so far--which is not much--so that’s a help because it equalizes the field more. What I know about the course is what I see on paper, and by that I mean the angle of the corners, the width and length of the straights, basically a map. I also know that they paved over some railroad tracks so we are anticipating that it will be bumpy, similar to the Toronto street course…It will be a very long and interesting Track Walk with the engineers as we go through all the details of the track. Having a new street course, a Track Walk is very important because then you see the details. You can learn a lot about the track before even putting the car on it. So that will be our first big test of the weekend. If we do our educated guesswork well, we can have a big jumpstart… A new track is a challenge for everybody. A street course is a bit more challenging because there are a more things to learn and less room for a mistake.”

• Meira on coming back from tough weekend: “My focus is to come out of Baltimore with a good, solid weekend. We want to have a solid, trouble free, competitive weekend to put the team back on track.. ..Coming off a tough weekend like we had is very tough because you blame yourself. Everybody blames themselves a little bit, I think. But knowing this, you go to the race with more pressure because you are one of the key pieces of the team. As the driver, you have one of the key responsibilities so you have to put more pressure on yourself to solve more problems. To want more? I don’t think that’s really possible because a dedicated driver always wants to do well. After a good weekend you go to your next race with more confidence but after a bad weekend, you go with more of a sense of responsibility to turn it around. And that will be my approach.”

• A.J. Foyt will participate in the Pink & Blue for Two charity event Saturday evening at Rams Head Live! Foyt joins actor/singer Olivia Newton-John and NFL football star Terrell Owens in the charity event which aims to raise awareness of the importance of early detection in breast and prostate cancers. A portion of the proceeds from this benefit will go to the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre, currently under construction in Melbourne, Australia as well as the Baltimore-based Cool Kids Campaign which focuses on the social, emotional and academic needs of children living with cancer.

• Again! Thomas Semik II won the Jim Greer Award of Excellence for the Indy Grand Prix at Sonoma last weekend. Semik, a mechanic who changes the inside rear tire on pit stops, became the team’s first 3-time winner in the inaugural season of the award. Jim Greer, longtime friend of A.J. Foyt, created an award to recognize outstanding performance at race events among the Foyt team members. The recipient, determined by team manager Craig Baranouski and crew chief Tom Howatt, receives a monetary bonus and his name (and the race) engraved on a plaque which hangs in the AJ Foyt Racing Showroom.

• ABC Supply roofing customer Marshall Roofing, Inc., located in Lorton, Va., won the ‘Your Name Here’ contest for this weekend’s race. The company name will be atop the sidepods of the No. 14 ABC Supply Dallara/Honda. Owner Troy Marshall and a guest will receive selected merchandise, race tickets, hospitality and garage passes, plus a Meet and Greet with A.J. Foyt and Vitor Meira. The “Your Name Here” promotion selected winners by random drawing from a pool of entries sent in by ABC Supply customers earlier this year.

• ABC Supply will entertain over 800 guests at the Baltimore Grand Prix this weekend! The regional team rented out the local Hooters Restaurant where the servers will work two seatings to accommodate all of the ABC Supply guests.

• The Baltimore Grand Prix will be shown live starting at 2:00 p.m. ET Sunday, Sept. 4 on Versus.