Honda Indy Edmonton

Race Report: Honda Indy Edmonton

EDMONTON, Canada July 24, 2011—Vitor Meira drove the ABC Supply car to a 12th place finish in the Honda Indy Edmonton and moved to 12th place in the IZOD IndyCar Series standings.

Starting 14th, Meira moved into 13th when Graham Rahal was punted by Alex Tagliani on the start. Tagliani was ordered to the pits for a drive through penalty for avoidable contact. Meira gained another spot when Oriol Servia pitted early on lap 23. Servia tangled with another car on his outlap from the pits and brought out a full course caution. In the ensuing pit stop, Meira gained a spot because Tony Kanaan had a problem on his stop. However, Tagliani and Mike Conway didn’t pit, so Meira was 13th.

On the restart, Kanaan made some aggressive moves—going from 16th to 11th but Race Control waved off the ragged start and Kanaan was put back to 16th. EJ Viso, who also had a problem on his stop, made some moves which saw him pick up four spots in one lap going from 10th to sixth. However two laps later, Viso tangled with Scott Dixon and, in avoiding the crashing cars, Meira lost four spots. Making matters worse, he thought a piece of debris got stuck under the car and he radioed in saying he thought he had a flat tire. But the engineers assured him his tire pressures were fine and he picked up the pace again.

In that melee, Meira was passed by Kanaan, Danica Patrick, Simona DeSilvestro and Marco Andretti. He passed Andretti and DeSilvestro in short order and set out for Patrick who was now 11th. Takuma Sato and Ryan Hunter-Reay tangled vying for second, with Sato spinning out, which moved Meira moved to 11th.

Like Tagliani, Hunter-Reay was given a drive through pit penalty for avoidable contact, moving Meira into the top 10. Tagliani, because of his early race penalty, was on a different fuel strategy so when he pitted on lap 48, Meira moved into ninth. He pitted seven laps later but in a rare miscue, he came in too hot and slid past his marks a bit. The ABC Supply team pushed him back several inches to reach the fuel hose. The inside tire changers struggled to get tires on as the car was too close to the pit wall. The 14-plus second stop (under green) cost him three positions as he slid back to 12th.

When Tagliani, who was running 11th, darted into the pits for fuel with five laps to go, Meira lost a spot to JR Hildebrand as the two hurtled towards Turn 1. However, Meira was able to out brake the rookie and he passed him back coming out of the turn. Two laps later Hildebrand did make a successful pass to take 11th.

“I thought we were going to run better,” said Meira. “We had a couple close calls, very close. On the two restarts we were on the inside and the inside was very bad—it was bottling up quite a lot. We lost a couple positions there and lost a couple positions with people in front of us [crashing and Meira trying to avoid them]. We did pass a few cars but towards the end of the stints, the tires were really struggling. The longevity on the tires wasn’t very good. We have to figure out how to make them last a little longer. Overall the car was good with new tires and we were as fast as a lot of people up there. We’ll go for the next one.”

Will Power won the race battling teammate Helio Castroneves over the final 23 laps. Series point leader Dario Franchitti finished third ahead of Kanaan and Justin Wilson. The next race will be the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on August 7th. It will be televised live on Versus with pre-race coverage starting at 2p.m. ET.

Vitor Meira Starts 14th...Again

EDMONTON July 23, 2011—The frustration in Vitor Meira’s voice came through as he sought to understand how, yet again, he missed transferring to the top 12 in qualifying in the IZOD IndyCar Series road/street course events. For the fifth time in six starts, he will start in row seven -- 14th-- in the Honda Indy Edmonton tomorrow.

“This is getting old,” said Meira. “In the beginning of the year we would take this as an okay qualifying run but not anymore. We want more. We need more. For one reason or another we keep barely, barely missing it every time. Like always, we will catch them back in the race but we have to transfer at least once. We have to.”

It appeared that this would be the day the transfer happened for Meira and the ABC Supply team. He needed only to wait out Sebastian Bourdais’ final lap, but as he did in Toronto, Bourdais “pipped” Meira in the final two seconds of the first round of 12 cars to slide into 12th and transfer to the second round of qualifying. Clocking a lap of 1:18.9165, Bourdais beat Meira’s time of 1:18.9781 by just six hundredths of a second. However, Bourdais was not able to improve his position after round 2 so he will start 12th, just ahead of Meira in row six.

Takuma Sato won his first PEAK Pole Performance Award on a road/street course by beating out Will Power with a lap time of 1:18.5165 to Power’s 1:18.5674; it was quite a feat considering Power won the previous five street/road course poles this season. Rounding out the Firestone Fast Six were: Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti, Sato’s teammate E.J. Viso and Power’s teammate Ryan Briscoe.

After finally getting to run the track in a race car and not just the golf cart, Meira was very happy with the new layout. He said, “It’s a much better track and the race will be much better. The fans will see a lot of places to pass, there’s a lot of hard braking, it’s smooth – there’s a few places where it’s bumpy and slick, but that’s airport/road course tracks so you can expect that. I wasn’t thrilled about coming back here on the old track, but now it’s actually fun and you can race this. I’m glad to be here.”

Rainy Day in Edmonton

EDMONTON, Canada July 22, 2011 -- Vitor Meira and the rest of the IZOD IndyCar Series drivers will have to wait another day to see just how fast the new 2.24-mile, 13-turn course at Edmonton’s City Center Airport will be. Officials cancelled all on-track activities today because of steady rain. That lack of practice will make the drivers' jobs just a little bit harder this weekend.

“The biggest challenge is getting to know the track,” said Meira from under the ABC Supply transporter tent which had a running rivulet the entire day. “That is the other factor here besides the rain and lack of time to run is that we just don’t know the track. If this happened at any other street course or road course [other than Baltimore], we know the track and we know what we should do but here really we don’t. The one consolation is that it is the same for everybody. Once the track is open, we have to focus on learning as fast as possible. At the beginning we have to forget a little bit about the details and worry about the big things and try to catch up fast. That is going to be our own race—how fast we can learn the track and what the car needs.”

It would appear that Meira and the ABC Supply team will get some track time tomorrow because the forecast is now calling for clear weather. All drivers will get two 45-minute practice sessions tomorrow before qualifying starts at 3:30. There will also be a 30-minute practice on race morning before the race gets underway at 12:45pm Mountain time.

Notes & Quotes: Honda Indy Edmonton

• Vitor Meira on the new track at Edmonton: “I’m happy to go back to Edmonton. For a while there we were a little bit in the dark on whether we’d return so I’m happy they pulled it off and made this race happen. It will be a brand new track for all of us, even though the surrounding area is the same, the track will be completely different so it might shake things up a little bit and it might be better for us.”

• Meira on challenges for a driver at a new tracks: “When you go to brand new tracks and it’s a street or airport course, normally you have on-board cameras from past races which help you analyze the track, and there are other people you can talk to about it, but in this case, it will be brand new for everybody. There are no parameters, we’ll be the first ones there—the track layout never had a race car on it so it will be a lot to take in. In the first session you have to try things and make sure you find your way quickly there—it will be key for the weekend. The quicker you find your way, the more you can focus on the car. You have to figure out braking points, gears, turn-ins, which curbs to use and which ones to avoid, how much speed to carry into this corner, and what is the best way to carry speed in—braking later or earlier? Finding your way around the course will be key to this weekend.”

• Honda To Power A.J. Foyt Racing in 2012: American Honda and its Honda Performance Development (HPD) subsidiary will power A.J. Foyt Racing in the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series, HPD and the team announced on July 19th. Under terms of the agreement, HPD will provide its new, turbocharged 2.2-liter Honda Indy V-6 engines to all Foyt entries in the Indianapolis 500 and the season-long IZOD IndyCar Series. (See entire press release at www.ajfoytracing.com).

• Meira on his first top five finish (5th) of the season in Toronto: “It was a very complicated race. I think everybody touched wheels at some point, everybody touched front wings to wheels from Dario to the last place car. There was confusion and there was trading paint going on constantly there for everyone, including us. I think we did a good job on the restarts and keeping our nose clean. No matter how you get there, a top five is a top five. And we were competitive.”

• This year, three of Meira’s four top-10 finishes (and now his first top-five) came on the road/street courses. Coming off a fifth place finish in Toronto, he finished eighth in St. Petersburg, Fla. and 10th in Birmingham, Ala. and Long Beach, Calif. An accident during a sudden downpour in Sao Paulo, Brazil prevented another top-10 finish there. Meira’s other top-10 came on an oval--in the first Twin 275 in Ft. Worth, Texas. Meira is currently 13th in the IZOD IndyCar Series standings with 171 points, three points shy of being in the top 10.

• Wade Crews won the Jim Greer Award for the Honda Indy Toronto. Crews is a veteran mechanic who changes the outside rear tire on the 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.

• Jet Set: Meira took a quick trip to Brazil where his young daughter Juliana (born on Easter) met her Brazilian relatives for the first time. Meira who left on Thursday (July 14th) and returned on Monday (July 18th) said the eight-hour flight from Miami to Brasilia was well worth it. His wife Adriana and family remained in Brazil.

• Past Performance at Edmonton: The Foyt team’s best finish at Edmonton – 10th-- came in 2008 with driver Darren Manning. Meira’s best finish (in two starts) is 16th (2010).

• The Honda Indy Edmonton will be broadcast live by Versus on Sunday, July 24th starting at 2:00pm ET.

• For more information on the Foyt Racing program, please check out: www.ajfoytracing.com . We have a Facebook fan page listed under AJ Foyt Racing where fans can find many current pictures of the team from this season. For information on ABC Supply Co.: www.abcsupply.com. There is also an ABC Supply Racing fan page on Facebook.