Iowa Corn Indy 250

Race Report: Iowa Corn Indy 250

NEWTON, Iowa June 25, 2011—Debris from other drivers’ crashes turned Vitor Meira’s race from one of redemption to that of survival at Iowa Speedway Saturday night. Meira finished 18th in the Iowa Corn Indy 250.

Meira survived a hectic night of racing which saw his ABC Supply team replace his front wing and then repair the replacement wing twice after two separate incidents involving more debris.

“I think to survive the weekend is the correct call,” said Meira afterwards. “It’s not the weekend we could have had but I choose to look at the bright side which is we found a major problem before the race. We were very puzzled about the car after the final practice. I think we found the problem because the car changed completely from last practice. It was another car [in the race]; it had tons of rear grip and it never stepped out on me, if anything it pushed.”

After a dismal final practice which saw the No. 14 last on the speed chart, the team examined the car and found what they believed to be the problem. It was caused by an innovation which solved one problem but caused a handling problem.

At the start of the race, Meira advanced to 14th but then dropped to 16th after 10 laps. When James Jakes crashed in turn 2, everyone pitted under caution on lap 26. Efficient pit work enabled Meira to pick up one spot and then two more when Will Power and Charlie Kimball crashed in the pits.

On the restart though, Meira dropped back several spots, saying the car was loose on cold tires. Ana Beatriz passed him but ten laps later she and Mike Conway crashed in turn 2. Meira had little time to react and clipped some debris from the accident which broke his front wing and bent the right front toe link on the suspension. The ABC Supply crew replaced the nose and then replaced the toe link with Meira stopping six times during the 18-lap caution period.

Meira lost a couple laps but did regain one with the wave around. However, the car was not right so he held on until the next caution period brought about by Will Power’s crash in turn 2 and he pitted on lap 91 to have the toe link adjusted further.

Sebastian Saavedra’s crash in turn 2 on lap 114 brought about another caution period and Meira pitted three times to have a piece of wheel removed from his front wing, have the subsequent hole taped and get a splash of fuel since they were at the end of the pack. Despite all of his travails, he was still only a lap down and in 19th position when racing resumed on lap 129.

However, the car picked up a push and Meira went two laps down on lap 164. About 15 laps later he was told to slow down and pit as Larry and A.J. Foyt observed a flash of fire on the right side of the 14 car as he headed towards turn 1. They thought he may have had a rear suspension failure. After examining the car, the crew found that part of the right front wing had been torn, probably caused by debris on track. It took seven minutes to repair the wing and examine the rear part of the car to make sure it wasn’t damaged.

In retrospect, the debris may have come from Takuma Sato’s car as he crashed in turn 2 moments after Meira had his problem. Once again, he rejoined the field with the instruction from Foyt to “Ride it out” as Meira was many laps down to the leaders.

When the duel for the lead between Tony Kanaan and eventual winner Marco Andretti heated up in the closing laps, Foyt told Meira to pit for good. “We were so far down, we couldn’t gain anything and I didn’t want him to be in the way of the leaders because they were racing hard,” said Foyt.

Meira was philosophical, saying, “A tough two weeks for us but we’re bigger than that. We’re better than the problems we had here so we’ll overcome it. We will learn from it and then we put it behind us and move forward.”

Andretti won the second race of his career over former teammate and 2010 Iowa Speedway winner Kanaan. Third through fifth were Scott Dixon, J.R. Hildebrand and Dario Franchitti. None of the seven drivers involved in accidents were injured. The next race for the IZOD IndyCar Series will be the Honda Indy Toronto on Sunday, July 10th.

Meira Will Start 16th in Iowa Corn Indy 250

NEWTON, Iowa June 24, 2011—Vitor Meira qualified the No.14 ABC Supply car in the 16th position for the Iowa Corn Indy 250 tomorrow evening. Qualifying took a surprise turn as Takuma Sato won the pole for his first pole position of his career.

“The run itself felt okay,” said Meira immediately after his run. “I think we achieved what we wanted to achieve which was to improve from practice to qualifying and the car was faster. I don’t know how it will stack up, we shall see. At this point, the ‘race’ car is good and that is what matters here.”

The race will be run under the lights for the first time at the .875-mile banked oval with an 8 p.m. start Saturday night. Asked how that might affect the cars, Meira said, “I think running at night will change things a little bit because here normally, the longer runs are the ones that hurt the car the most as far as losing grip. So as the run progresses during the night it will get cooler so it might not be as big of a factor as it is during the day but it will still be a factor."

What causes the tires to lose grip here faster than at other tracks? Meira said, “I think it’s a combination of a number of things, the track is faster, it has a lot of banking so it loads the car quite a lot. We do have a lot of steering input because the turns are pretty tight so it’s all of these things together which does put a lot of stress on the tires.”

Meira qualified at an average speed of 178.3 mph for the two laps. Sato’s pole speed was 180.3 mph. Rounding out the top five were Danica Patrick for her best start since 2008, Tony Kanaan, J.R. Hildebrand and Will Power.

The race coverage will start on Versus starting at 8 p.m. Eastern Time with the green flag set to wave around 9 p.m. ET.

NOTES & QUOTES: Iowa Corn Indy 250 at Iowa Speedway

Vitor Meira: ABC Supply No. 14 Dallara/Honda/Firestone

·         Vitor Meira on overcoming a tough weekend in Milwaukee:  “As soon as I jump in the car in Iowa and the car is good and I get my confidence back, this will all be behind us. It’s not the first time it’s happened with any team and it’s not going to be the last time it happens with any team. What counts is have we learned from our mistakes? And I’m sure we will do that. After this last weekend, we have a lot to look forward to because Iowa was one of the best races for us last year.  Not much has changed from last year to this year with regard to aero package, tires and the track itself, so we have high hopes for this weekend. I know the car is going to be good there and I’m really looking forward to having a strong finish.”

·         Meira on the keys to success at Iowa Speedway: “You need to have a good car near the end of the stint. To have a car where you are flat out on the inside for 10 laps is not a big deal, the problems start to appear at the end of the run on old tires. That is when you need a balanced car to pick up a lot of spots and that’s how you gain in Iowa… I think the most important turns are 1 and 2 so if you have your car working well in 1 and 2, you’ll be good in 3 and 4 and you’ll do well.  It is a two groove track—at least in 3 and 4—I’m not so sure about 1 and 2. I always preferred the outside in 3 and 4 but that depends quite a lot on car set-up.”

·         Meira on challenges posed by the 7/8-mile speedway: “Physically it is very demanding. I think it’s because of the banking, the downforce and the way the car has to be set up – it all adds to steering weight. The g-forces there are pretty high because of the banking, and it’s the only short oval with banking that we run now. It makes it interesting because you do see people falling out of the seat.”

·         Past performance at Iowa Speedway:  Last year, Meira started 13th and finished seventh for his best finish at the oval. In 2009, Meira’s substitute driver Ryan Hunter-Reay was collected when rookie Robert Doornbos spun in turn 4 on lap three. In 2008, Meira started 12th and finished 15th – he had problems getting into his pitbox due to mechanical issues with his steering. Gridded by points, Darren Manning started 19th and dropped out after 94 laps due to the steering being too heavy. In 2007, Meira started 13th and was credited with ninth but he crashed out on lap 217 when his suspension failed. Manning started 15th and finished fifth.

·         ABC Supply roofing customer De Neve Construction, serving Cedar Rapids area, won the ‘Your Name Here’ contest for the Iowa Corn 250. The company name will be atop the sidepods of the No. 14 ABC Supply Dallara/Honda. Rick De Neve will receive selected merchandise, race tickets, hospitality and garage passes, plus a Meet and Greet with A.J. Foyt and Vitor Meira.

·         ABC Supply will entertain 300 guests in their hospitality tent at Iowa Speedway. Since the company began sponsoring A.J. Foyt’s team in 2005, they have entertained over 25,000 associates and customers at the races.

·         Iowa Connections: Housby, an associate sponsor of the No. 14, is based in nearby Des Moines. Since 1969, Housby has been known for the quality of the new and used trucks they sell as well as their excellent customer service. Founder Jack Housby, a former NASCAR driver and team owner, started out Housby as a Mack Truck dealership and with the help of his sons Kevin and Kelly, has grown it into a business conglomerate offering multiple services to its customers.

·         The Iowa Corn Indy 250 will be shown live at 8:00 p.m. E.T. Saturday, June 25 on Versus.

·         For more information on the Foyt Racing program, please check our web site: www.ajfoytracing.com.