Las Vegas Indy 300

Las Vegas Speedway

Race Report - Las Vegas

LAS VEGAS Oct 16—Tragedy struck at Las Vegas Motor Speedway as the IZOD IndyCar Series closed out its season Sunday afternoon with the running of the Las Vegas Indy 300. Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon succumbed to injuries sustained in a 15-car crash on the 11th lap of the 200 lap race.

Vitor Meira escaped injury as his car was one of the 15 caught up in the melee triggered by contact between two cars exiting turn 2. With the cars running so closely packed together, the consequences of the contact were as shocking as they were horrific.

Several cars became airborne and several others caught on fire after hitting the wall or each other. Wheldon’s car became airborne before making a devastating impact into the outer retaining wall and catch fence. He was transported to University Hospital where he passed away a short time later.

A drivers’ meeting was called where they were informed of Wheldon’s passing and that the race would be cancelled. However, an impromptu tribute was planned to honor the 2011 Indy 500 champion. The remaining 19 cars that weren’t damaged would line up three abreast, and run five laps around the 1.5-mile speedway in memory of the young Brit who won his first Indy 500 in 2005. He won the series title later year. Wheldon is survived by his wife Susie and two young sons, Sebastian and Oliver.

Meira, who started 25th, was running 20th when the accident occurred on lap 11. Meira was struck by several cars. He made it back to the pits but his car was too damaged to continue. Of the 15 drivers involved, only Will Power, J.R. Hildebrand and Pippa Mann were taken to University Hospital. Power was evaluated and released while the other two drivers are being kept overnight for observation. None of their injuries were considered life threatening.

Dario Franchitti won his third straight championship. Franchitti was leading Will Power in the IZOD IndyCar Series season standings following the Kentucky 300, which became the final points race of the season as the Las Vegas Indy 300 was deemed incomplete. The championship awards banquet, set to take place Monday evening, was also cancelled.

NOTES & QUOTES: Las Vegas Indy 300

• Vitor Meira on Las Vegas: “No matter how many times you come here, when the plane comes down and you see all those buildings and the lights - it’s awesome. Running the cars on The Strip and doing all the media that we’re doing, it’s going to be a very cool weekend. I hope to do well so it will be a good end to the season.”

• “Vitor Meira, You are an Ironman!” Meira (along with fellow driver Tony Kanaan) heard those words last Saturday evening at the end of the grueling Ironman World Championship contest in Kona, Hawaii. The competition consisted of swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112 miles and running 26.2 miles in succession. Meira finished in a total time of 12 hours, 24 minutes. He ranked 145 out of the 171 men in his 30-34 age group. Overall, he ranked 1408 of 1918 competitors. Kanaan, who completed it in 12 hours, 52 minutes, also earned the title of Ironman. He ranked 208 of 240 in the 35-39 age group and ranked 1488 of 1918 triathletes. However, it was not about the numbers for these drivers – it was about the experience which Meira termed “Awesome!”

• Meira on the Ironman Competition: “Obviously it was a long day but I think at the same time I was happy about it—but it was very humbling. You see a lot of people that you think you are faster than they are and you’re not faster that day. You respect the day. As an experience, it was very, very cool. It shows what your mind can do. You tell yourself, I am going to do this. It’s long but you can prepare yourself and you can go through it. Two days later we drove about half of the course for the run and it was sooo long—just driving! I try to learn things all the time and this was a very good opportunity. [Why did you do it?] One of the reasons we did it was to expose how fit we have to be to race Indy cars and I think we accomplished that. This weekend, several drivers came up and thanked us for doing it.”

• The toughest part of the competition: “The toughest part was the run, first you are fatigued when you start and then second I had something that didn’t go well in my stomach. At that point to digest anything, it takes blood and you are using blood everywhere. I took something that didn’t go down well and I started to have stomach cramps along the run so I couldn’t eat as much as I should during the run. You have to eat because that’s the only way you get the energy. That part was rough because I felt a lot of discomfort and it was very hot and the run itself is very tough. Running was definitely where I had to talk to myself and say I’ve got to get through this. And I did.”

• ABC Supply roofing customer Titan Roofing in Las Vegas, NV won the ‘Your Name Here’ contest for the IZOD INDYCAR World Championship race. The company name will be atop the sidepods of the No. 14 ABC Supply Dallara/Honda. Owner Peter Cicchetti will receive selected merchandise, race tickets, hospitality and garage passes, plus a Meet and Greet with Vitor Meira and A.J. Foyt. The “Your Name Here” promotion selected winners by random drawing from a pool of entries sent in by ABC Supply customers earlier this year.

• ALFE Heat Treating Returns: Alfe Heat Treating, which first signed with AJ Foyt Racing in May as an associate sponsor, returns to the No. 14 for the final race of the season. Alfe Heat Treating, Inc. is the largest commercial aluminum heat treating operation in the United States. The company operates plants throughout the Midwest and Southeast serving aerospace, automotive, military, & commercial customers with both ferrous and non-ferrous facilities.

• Team Headquarters - Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino: The Golden Nugget Las Vegas is the team headquarters for AJ Foyt Racing and will host an autograph session with driver Vitor Meira Friday evening. The Golden Nugget logo will also appear on the No. 14 ABC Supply race car for the IndyCar season finale.

• Anthony ‘Tony’ Turner will be the ABC Supply Honorary Crew Member of the race this weekend. Turner works as a material handler in the Kingman, AZ store for ABC Supply.

• Las Vegas past performance: Meira has never competed at the Speedway. The team’s best finish came in 1999 with Kenny Brack who finished 2nd after starting third. Billy Boat won the pole twice driving for Foyt in 1997 and 1998.

• The Las Vegas Indy 300 will be shown live at 3:00 p.m. ET Sunday on ABC.