Honda Indy 200

Race Report: Honda Indy 200 at Mid Ohio

LEXINGTON, OH August 7, 2011—Vitor Meira and the ABC Supply team claimed another top-10 finish in the Honda Indy 200 at Mid Ohio Sports Car Course Sunday afternoon. It was their fifth top-10 finish of the season.

Starting 21st, Meira picked up two positions in the opening laps. When the first full course caution came out at the end of lap 21 for Sebastian Saavedra’s spin into the turn 2 tire barrier, most of the field took the opportunity to pit including Meira. A quick 7.13-second stop saw Meira pick up two spots in the pits. However, on the scoring charts he was still 19th because Danica Patrick stayed out during that caution period as did James Hinchcliffe who had pitted the lap before the caution.

On the restart, Meira navigated through a tangle involving Helio Castroneves, JR Hildebrand and E.J. Viso in turn 10. He moved into 16th. He passed Simon Pagenaud when he went off course and when Patrick pitted several laps later, he moved into 14th.

By lap 46 he lost a couple spots to Mike Conway and Graham Rahal. Meira radioed in that he needed a front wing adjustment. He pitted eight laps later as the final pit stop cycles began. After another solid stop –just over 8 seconds with the wing adjustment, Meira was in good shape when the second full course yellow was called for an accident between Rahal and Patrick on lap 57.

The yellow proved costly for leaders Will Power and Ryan Briscoe who had been running in the top five as they were forced to make their final stop under caution behind all those who had pitted earlier, including Meira. When the race restarted, he was in 13th but a brake check by the cars ahead of him cost him a little time as he tried to get by Oriol Servia for 12th. They banged wheels but Servia maintained his position and Meira settled in behind him. He moved into 12th when Conway retired with mechanical problems on lap 63.

Meira gained a couple more positions when Hinchcliffe and Charlie Kimball went off course in separate incidents. He deftly avoided Kimball who came back on track directly in Meira’s path. It was then that Meira moved into 10th which he never relinquished. It was his second top-10 finish in four starts at Mid Ohio and the ABC Supply team’s fourth top-10 since the Izod IndyCar Series started racing there in 2007.

“As competitive as it is, I think we have to be happy and accept a top-10 finish under any conditions, especially coming from 21st,” Meira said. “The only good session for us was the one that counted – the race. No matter how bad we start, our ABC Supply team never gives up. The team gave me a good car and good pit stops. Another top 10 on a road course – we’ll take it.”

Pole winner Scott Dixon won the race while his teammate Dario Franchitti finished second to increase his point lead over Will Power who finished 14th. Rounding out the top five were Ryan Hunter-Reay, Takuma Sato and Tony Kanaan. Despite Meira’s top-10 finish, Hunter-Reay, Sato and Alex Tagliani passed him in the standings, dropping him to 14th (they all passed Patrick whose 21st place finish dropped her from 10th to 15th).

The team is heading to New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Monday as the IndyCar Series returns to one of the tracks it ran in 1996 when the Indy Racing League began. Scott Sharp won that race in 1996 driving for A.J. Foyt. The MoveThatBlock.com Indy 225 will be broadcast live on ABC-TV starting at 3:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, August 14th.


Meira Will Start 21st in Honda Indy 200

LEXINGTON, OH Aug. 6, 2011—Vitor Meira will start 21st in the Honda Indy 200 at Mid Ohio Sports Car Course tomorrow afternoon. Meira qualified the ABC Supply Dallara/Honda at 116.7mph (1:09.60) around the 2.5-mile, 13-turn natural terrain road course.

“It was disappointing,” said Meira afterwards. “It’s not a very easy track to pass on so we needed a better qualifying run. The restarts are going to be on the backstretch straight but the double file restarts will be a good opportunity to pass -- at least better than it’s been in past years. I pushed a little too hard on my last lap and I went off in turn 9. I was running on the conservative side a couple times this season because I was looking at the overall championship but now I’m going to try to score big every time I go to the track. In qualifying, I put myself in a spot but it didn’t come out my way this time. But I’ll keep the same attitude for the race and hopefully it comes our way.”

Meira’s final lap -- had he stayed on that pace (and on the track) -- would have gotten him into the second round of qualifying for the first time this season. Team owner A.J. Foyt was philosophical, saying, “I can’t holler when he’s trying hard and he slips off course because that shows me he’s giving 110% and that’s what I asked of him, because that’s what we’re trying to give him.”

Scott Dixon won his first pole position of the season with a speed of 119.4mph and a time of 1:08.07. Ryan Briscoe will start alongside Dixon for his second front row start of the season. Rounding out the Firestone Fast Six are Dario Franchitti, Will Power, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Graham Rahal.

Due to the configuration of the track with its fairly short front straightaway, the initial start and all double file restarts will take place on the long straight between turns 3 and 4 instead of at the start/finish line. The race will be televised live tomorrow afternoon with coverage on Versus starting at 2 p.m. ET.


NOTES & QUOTES: Honda Indy 200 at Mid Ohio

• Vitor Meira on Mid Ohio: “I’m anxious to go to Mid Ohio because it’s a track that is similar to those you’d find in Europe which is where I ‘grew up’ in car racing. Mid Ohio’s many elevation changes, its fast and slow corners remind me of the courses in Europe, particularly Oulton Park in England. It’s not the layout of Mid Ohio but the feel of it that is reminiscent of the European circuits. Plus last year wasn’t a good race for us even though we like the track a lot. This year our road/street course car is better because of the work the team did over the winter. Also, I think I am better on these tracks because of changes in the way I drive them. We’ve shown improvement in every road/street course race so far this season even though the competition is tougher this year.”

Note: On road/street courses to date this year, Meira’s average start is 14th compared to 19th in 2010; his average finish is 10th compared to 12th in 2010.

• Meira on the keys to success at Mid Ohio this weekend: “I think the key is in the mid corner speed. Since Mid Ohio is so smooth, you can brake later so being able to carry the speed through the corners and getting good grip off the corners is key. This weekend is supposed to be hot, so being able to drive the car consistently throughout the race without being physically challenged by the conditions will also be a big factor.”

• Thomas Semik II became the first two-time winner of the team’s Jim Greer Award because of his work during the Honda Indy Edmonton race weekend. Semik is a veteran mechanic who changes the inside rear tire during pit stops. 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 receives a monetary bonus and his name (and the race name) engraved on a plaque which hangs in the AJ Foyt Racing Showroom.

• Past performance at Mid Ohio: Meira’s best finish was sixth in 2008 while the ABC Supply team’s best IZOD IndyCar Series (IICS) finish was 4th in 2009 with Ryan Hunter-Reay (who was subbing for the injured Meira). In four IICS starts, the team has had three top-10 finishes. The Foyt team’s best finish overall came in 1993 with Robby Gordon who finished second to Emerson Fittipaldi in the CART Indycar event that year.

• ABC Supply roofing customer Biltmore Exteriors, located in the Canton, OH area, won the ‘Your Name Here’ contest for the Honda Indy 200 at Mid Ohio. The company name will be atop the sidepods of the No. 14 ABC Supply Dallara/Honda. Owner Bob Kidd will receive selected merchandise, race tickets, hospitality and garage passes, plus a Meet and Greet with A.J. Foyt and Vitor Meira.

• Michael Mrakovich will be the ABC Supply Honorary Crew Member of the race this weekend. Mrakovich, 41, is in his third year working in a sales position for ABC Supply in Youngstown, OH. He lives in Poland, OH with his wife Angelica and children Kincaid and Peyton. Mrakovich has seen numerous NHRA and NASCAR races but this weekend will be his first ever IndyCar race. He is looking forward to “meeting racing legend A.J. Foyt.”

• Thomas Semik II became the first two-time winner of the team’s Jim Greer Award because of his work during the Honda Indy Edmonton race weekend. Semik is a veteran mechanic who changes the inside rear tire during pit stops. 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 receives a monetary bonus and his name (and the race name) engraved on a plaque which hangs in the AJ Foyt Racing Showroom.

• ABC Supply will entertain 500 guests in their hospitality tent at Mid-Ohio. Since the company began sponsoring A.J. Foyt’s team in 2005, they have entertained over 25,000 associates and customers at the races.

• The Honda Indy 200 at Mid Ohio will be shown live at 2:00 p.m. E.T. Sunday, August 7 on Versus.