Firestone Twin 275s

Race Report: Firestone Twin 275s

FT WORTH, Texas June 11, 2011—Vitor Meira and the ABC Supply team finished eighth and 11th in the Firestone Twin 275s at Texas Motor Speedway Saturday night. Averaging the two finishes together gives him 9.5, with Meira keeping his string of top-10 finishes intact at the 1.5 mile Speedway. Meira remains tied for 11th in the IZOD IndyCar Series standings.

Dario Franchitti won the first event while Will Power won the second race.

In Race 1, Meira started 12th and moved into the top 10 by lap five and slipped to 11th briefly on lap nine. By lap 12, he was solidly in the top 10 and moved to eighth 12 laps later. He slipped to ninth on lap 31 but 10 laps later he was back in eighth. A 7.6 second pit stop on lap 53 kept him in eighth when the pit stop cycle ended.

An accident between Charlie Kimball and Wade Cunningham with 20 laps to go brought out the night’s only caution which lasted for 10 laps. Meira pitted for tires and fuel as did most of the field. The restart on lap 104 made for a 10-lap dash at the end. In the shuffle for position, Meira lost one to E.J. Viso but gained one from Helio Castroneves, so when the checkered flag flew, he was still eighth across the line.

Second through fifth were Scott Dixon, Will Power, Alex Tagliani and Takuma Sato.

The teams had a 70-minute intermission, during which the drivers selected their starting position for Race 2 by turning around one of 30 tires to reveal their starting position. Meira started seventh but his grid position advantage didn’t last. Avoiding Ed Carpenter, who slid in front of him up to the wall, caused Meira to lift to avoid hitting him. It was a costly but necessary lift off the throttle as Meira dropped from 211mph to 190mph and slipped back to 14th by lap seven.

He managed to climb back to eighth by lap 25 but by lap 37, Meira said the car began pushing. He slipped to 10th before pitting on lap 53. The team made an air pressure adjustment and a front wing change in 9.2 seconds but the extra adjustment saw him slip to 12th. As the race wound down, he moved to 10th briefly as some of the cars began pitting for a second time.

Meira pitted on lap 105 for a splash of fuel only. Once the pit stop cycle played out, Meira found himself in 11th which is where he finished. Following Power across the line were Scott Dixon, Ryan Briscoe, Helio Castroneves and Tony Kanaan, who started from the number one position.

“This place is definitely intense, you can’t take it for granted,” Meira said. “We had a very good run in the first race, and we did improve the car for the second race-- made it a bit faster. But I don’t think we were at the right place at the right time. In the beginning of the second race, I couldn’t keep it on bottom for very long and that’s where they got me. But I don’t want to blame it on the balance because the speed wasn’t 100% there. I think the ABC Supply team did everything we could—got the bugs out of it, had a decent qualifying effort…strong during the race—it’s just a tiny bit of speed we’re missing that we have to keep searching for which will bring us to the next level. “

When asked if he had any close calls during the race, he laughed, saying, “You have close calls all the time in Texas but when the car is good you can avoid them—the close calls come less often. I had a good car so I could avoid a lot of them.”

Meira Qualifies 12th for the Firestone Twin 275s

FT. WORTH, TX (June 10, 2011)—Vitor Meira continues to better his starting positions in 2011 over his 2010 grid starts. Meira qualified his ABC Supply No. 14 car 12th fastest out of a field of 30 cars for tomorrow evening’s Firestone Twin 275s IndyCar race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Under a blistering hot sun with temps in the 90s, Meira posted two laps of 213.6 mph and 213.2 mph for an average speed of 213.4 mph to secure the outside sixth row starting slot in the first of two 114-lap twin features. Compared to last year when he qualified 19th here, Meira moved up seven positions in an even more competitive field this season.

“It was a pretty good run considering that we spent most of the practice working on our race set-up versus our qualifying setup. I’m satisfied to be in the top half of a big and very competitive field—especially knowing our race setup is better than our qualifying setup.”

Qualifying will only apply for the first race of the doubleheader because immediately after the first race, drivers will draw for their starting position in the second event. The track has come up with a unique visual for the fans in attendance. Ten poles with three Firestone tires each mounted to them will be positioned across the pre-race stage at the start finish line. The driver finishing last in the first race will be the first to select one of 30 Firestone tires which will be spun around to reveal the starting position. The second-to-last finisher will be the next to select and continuing through the finishers until reaching the winner who will end up with the final tire.

Teams will have a 10-minute window after the first race to submit a request to run their back-up car in the second feature if their primary car is too badly damaged in the first race to continue. The time between races will now be 70 minutes allowing for teams to make changes to their cars once the winner’s car returns to pit lane after the abbreviated victory lane ceremonies.

Winning his second straight pole was Alex Tagliani with a two-lap average speed of 215.1 mph. He was the only driver to crack the 215 mph bracket. Second through 11th were Dario Franchitti, Will Power, Takuma Sato, Ed Carpenter, Tony Kanaan, Scott Dixon, Wade Cunningham, Ryan Briscoe, Danica Patrick and J.R. Hildebrand.

Coverage of the race gets underway tomorrow evening on Versus starting at 8 p.m. ET.

Notes & Quotes: Firestone Twin 275s at Texas Motor Speedway

• Vitor Meira on the key to success at Texas Motor Speedway: “Key to Texas? You have to be there at the end! More than any other place—if you have a good car, you’ll be at the front. But a lot of things happen at Texas and you always have to be up on the wheel. I think you only put yourself in risky situations at the end of the race, before that you bide your time.”

• Meira on twin race format at Texas: “I’ve never done it before so I don’t know what to expect. I’ve done some go karts races where I ran two races in one day. I do know you have to finish the first race in one piece. If you have a crash or engine failure, it will be hard to recover even if your backup car is ready to go. You always wonder how good the backup car is. How confident will you be in it? It’s important to be aggressive in the first race but also to finish it with a good idea on how you can make improvements to the car for the second race.” On how the track changes between races? “Normally the track just gets better because of the downforce, it cools down a bit and the wind dies down too. Normally during the race we can only do a couple things like tire pressures and front wing adjustments so instead of just band-aiding it with front wing, we’ll be able to do other things to the car which might be huge for the second race.” On the mental challenge of two races in one evening? “It will definitely be a challenge. It will be like those races where we get rained out or have rain delays. We start the race, the rain comes and then we have to start again. It will not be just for the driver but for everybody on the team. At least I think it will be like that but I truly don’t know what to expect, but I am going to prepare myself along those lines.”

• A.J. Foyt on Firestone Twin 275s: “I think it’s good for the fans, they get to see two races instead of one. You’ve got to please the fans to fill the seats in the grandstands and sometimes you have to change up the format to do that. I think drawing for the second race starting position is good because you might see the winner of the first race have to come up through the field which would be more interesting for the fans too. I’ve run them before but it was a long time ago.” Foyt competed in eight doubleheaders, winning races at Trenton, NJ in 1973 and 1974. He finished second in both races at St. Jovite, Canada in 1967 and scored top-five finishes in both events at Indianapolis Raceway Park in 1968 and in 1969.

• Meira on double file restarts at Texas: “I think they will be much better at Texas. I think it’s a place where those restarts will make it a better spectacle for the fans and not put a lot of cars in danger. I’m sure the drivers aren’t going to have a problem with it and the fans are going to enjoy it even more. One advantage is if something happens where you make a mistake, the double file restart does put you back in the race with more chances to recover and that’s all you can ask for.”

• Meira on what he remembered most about the 100th anniversary event at Indy: “From the drivers’ introduction to when I sat in the race car. That is where it hit me just how much it meant to everyone—even how emotional everyone was about the 100th. It was more meaningful to the teams—not just to run good but just to be there and be a part of it. I think a lot of the team owners, mechanics and drivers thought ‘Man I’m really lucky to be here today’ and that’s how I felt: proud to be there that day, that place.”

• Meira won his first pole position at Texas Motor Speedway in 2002. Driving for Menard, Meira finished third in his first race at the track. He has posted nine top-10 finishes in 10 starts, four of which were top-fives. His best finish to date is third in 2002.

• Chief engineer Jeff Britton, of Indianapolis, won the Jim Greer Award for the Indy 500. 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 will hang in the AJ Foyt Racing Showroom.

• ABC Supply truck driver, Bill Erwin, of Katy, TX, will be the honorary crew member for the race. Erwin will help the team as they prepare for the race and will participate in the pit stops, assisting the tire manager. Erwin attended his first race last year, the Brickyard 400. After hearing he was selected to be the honorary crew member, he responded, “I was shocked when I found out I was going to spend the entire race in the pits! It re-emphasizes what I already know to be true: ABC Supply is an awesome company!”

• ABC Supply roofing customer Remedy Roofing won the ‘Your Name Here’ contest for the Firestone 550k. The company name will be atop the sidepods of the No. 14 ABC Supply Dallara/Honda. Owners Doug Traylor and Greg Armin will receive selected merchandise, race tickets, hospitality and garage passes, plus a Meet and Greet with 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.

• The Firestone Twin 275s will be shown live at 8:00 p.m. ET on Saturday, June 11 on Versus TV channel.

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