Honda Indy Toronto

Race Report: Honda Indy Toronto

TORONTO July 10, 2011 — Benefitting from a little luck and a lot of experience, Vitor Meira drove the No. 14 ABC Supply Dallara/Honda to fifth place in the Honda Indy Toronto IndyCar Series race around the rough and tumble streets of Canada’s largest city.

Eight cautions for 32 laps slowed the race as the tight action on the streets involved at least 15 different cars, six of which weren’t able to return to the track. Starting 14th, Meira didn’t escape the slugfest without a few scars.

Using an alternate pit strategy, he pitted on lap 17 and dropped back to 22nd. When the yellow waved for a full course caution on lap 31, many leaders pitted, and Meira jumped up to seventh. After a couple of double file restarts, he was in ninth on lap 48 when he was rear-ended by Paul Tracy, the impact knocking Meira into the wall. He pitted for a new nose/front wing assembly which the team replaced without losing a lap. When the race restarted, he was in 17th and nearly last of the 23 cars still running.

"While I was crashing, I thought Game Over,” said Meira. “It wasn’t our fault, we got hit and spun into the wall. It was a big wreck but that’s where we really got lucky. We had to change the nose but when everything was okay, I got hopeful again. That’s how it is—you never give up. The day you give up, you don’t deserve to be here.”

Three more full-course cautions for multi-car accidents, some of which involved cars in the lead pack, played into Meira’s hands as he moved into 11th after passing Charlie Kimble on a lap 71 restart. When the final caution came out on lap 77, four cars in the top 10 crashed in turn 3 and Meira slid past unscathed to move into seventh.

The green flag waved again on lap 80 and on the following lap, he passed Sebastian Bourdais for sixth. Moments later Graham Rahal and Ryan Hunter-Reay made contact battling for third place with Rahal spinning out. Meira, now in fifth, fought off a hard-pressing Bourdais, the four-time CART IndyCar champion over the final four laps of the 85-lap race.

“It was a good day for ABC Supply and a good way to bounce back from the last two races we had,” Meira said. “It was a very tough race but it was one that rewarded experience. It was plenty aggressive out there. I may have been over-cautious at times but it was stupid crazy in the beginning. I left a little on the table because I knew people would be crashing right and left. No matter how we got there it was a good finish for the ABC Supply team – they’re upbeat so that’s all I care about.”

Dario Franchitti won the race for the third time in his career and fourth win this season. Scott Dixon finished second over Ryan Hunter-Reay and Marco Andretti. Meira’s fifth place finish moved him to 13th in the point standings, just two points out of tenth place.

The IZOD IndyCar Series has next weekend off before heading to Edmonton, Canada for the Honda Indy Edmonton. It will be televised live by Versus starting at 3 p.m. ET on Sunday, July 24th.

Vitor Meira Will Start 14th in No. 14 at Toronto

TORONTO July 9, 2011--Vitor Meira qualified the No. 14 ABC Supply Dallara/Honda in the 14th position for tomorrow’s Honda Indy Toronto IndyCar race.

“It was a good effort from the ABC Supply team,” said Meira. “You always feel you could have done better but overall qualifying went okay. It’s good to have a solid, stable weekend after the last two hard weekends we had. Today was a good day -- everybody’s confidence went up. We are starting to bounce back from the tough stretch we had.”

It is the fourth time in five starts on the road/street courses that Meira has just missed advancing to the next bracket by a fraction of a second. In this round, Meira’s 59.98-seconds lap time was just nine-hundredths of a second shy of Sebastian Bourdais’ time. Instead, Meira will start 14th, outside of James Hinchcliffe, who was seventh quickest in Group 1. However, Meira’s start marks an improvement over last year here when he started 26th after having a problem in qualifying.

Will Power won his fifth pole of the season with a time of 59.57 seconds. Second through 12th were: Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti, Mike Conway, Graham Rahal, Oriol Servia, Sebastian Bourdais, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Alex Tagliani, Ryan Briscoe, Justin Wilson and Helio Castroneves.

There will be a final warm-up tomorrow morning for the 26-car field before the IndyCar pre-race coverage begins on Versus around 1:45 p.m. The green flag is set to wave at 2:50 p.m. on Versus.

Practice Report: Honda Indy Toronto

TORONTO July 8, 2011—Vitor Meira and the ABC Supply team made solid improvement over the course of two practice sessions on the streets of Toronto’s Exhibition Place.

Meira was 22nd out of 26 cars after the first practice session and bumped it up to 13th quickest in the second session with a time of 1:01:3793 for a speed of 102.9mph. Will Power set a quick time of 1:00.5581 for a speed of 104.3mph as he seeks to make it two wins in a row on the 1.75-mile circuit.

Meira was satisfied with the day’s work, saying, “There were no major problems today—we made good sensible changes which led to step-by-step improvements. It was a good first day. Now we have to maintain that progress tomorrow.”

The team has one more practice session in the morning before qualifying for the Honda Indy Toronto takes place tomorrow afternoon starting at 12:50 p.m.

Notes & Quotes: Honda Indy Toronto

• Vitor Meira on Toronto: “Last year was my first experience with Toronto and we were doing okay up to qualifying when we had a brake issue and that set us back in the race too. It was one of the courses that the car was very good at from the get go and with all of the improvements we made on the street/road course cars over the winter, my hopes are high for Toronto. We definitely improved on the package for this year and that should transfer in Toronto. The trickiest part of the circuit itself is not one area (although the hairpin at end of straight is a very tough braking area) but all of the surface changes. In one corner you can have asphalt, concrete and bumpy asphalt and all of the transitions between those make it more challenging. That is the toughest part – to have your car behave as good as it can on all of the surface changes while knowing it’s never going to be perfect.”

• Meira on the IndyCar Series return to Auto Club (formerly California) Speedway in 2012: “I am very excited to be returning there. I’m one of the people who still thinks that the IndyCar Series should be, at the very least, 50% ovals. Anytime it is an oval (mostly the big ovals) coming into the series, I am excited because that is where the championship series was founded and I think that’s where it should have most of its races. The Fontana track is always a very exciting race and with the new cars, things will get shuffled around, so I’m very excited! Good stuff.”

Note: Driving for Menards and later for Rahal/Letterman, Meira finished 11th, 21st and 3rd at the two-mile oval when the IZOD IndyCar Series ran there from 2003-2005.

• Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino Partners with AJ Foyt Racing for Las Vegas race: The promotional partnership will allow race fans to stay at the Golden Nugget for a special rate as long as they book by Sept. 30th. To book online, go to: http://goldennugget.com/specials/eblasts/indy.html. Fans may also call 800-634-3454 and mention the code ‘INDY11’.

• Meira on return to road courses: “I am excited but my biggest concern is to rebound from the last couple of races we had and the issues we ran into. It doesn’t matter that it’s a street course or an oval, I’m really going to focus on having a good solid weekend because that’s what we need right now. In some ways it’s good that our next race is at a street course because we can implement everything that we learned so far this year on the street courses.”

• Three of Meira’s four top-10 finishes in 2011 have come on the road/street courses. 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.

• Crew Chief Tom Howatt, born in Margate, England, moved to the Toronto area when he was seven. He grew up in Mississisauga, 14 miles northwest of the city. Howatt began his racing career by working on sports cars. In 1985, he began working on Indy cars for the Canadian Tire team with driver Jacques Villeneuve, younger brother of Formula 1 driver Gilles and uncle to the 1995 Indy 500 winner. Howatt counts one of his fondest memories as winning with Villeneuve at Road America (Elkhart Lake, WI) in 1985. In his 28 year career, he has worked with Pat Patrick, Granatelli, Truesports, Panther Racing and Rocketsports. Howatt has been working with Foyt’s team since 2008.

• Team members Andrew Copeland and Pat Jordan won the Jim Greer Award for the Milwaukee 225 and Iowa Corn Indy 250 races respectively. Copeland, who joined the Foyt team last year, works as a general mechanic. Jordan, a veteran mechanic who works with the team on race weekends, changes the outside front 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.

• Past Performance at Toronto: Meira started 26th (after having a problem in qualifying) and finished 11th last year. In the IZOD IndyCar Series’ first visit to the street circuit in 2009, Ryan Hunter-Reay subbed for Meira who was still recovering from his injuries at Indy. Hunter-Reay started 12th and finished seventh. A former CART and Champ Car racer, Hunter-Reay had raced at the circuit three times prior to 2009. The Foyt team’s best finish in Toronto during its run in the CART Series was sixth with Robby Gordon in 1993.

• The Honda Indy Toronto will be broadcast live by Versus Sunday 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.