Toyota Grand Prix

Meira Posts Another Top 10 Finish!

LONG BEACH, Calif. April 17, 2011--Discretion is the better part of valor. Vitor Meira and the ABC Supply team weathered a few close calls in the Grand Prix of Long Beach to finish ninth, his second top-10 finish in three races. He remains 10th in the IZOD IndyCar Series standings.

Starting 13th in the ABC Supply Dallara/Honda, Meira filed into 13th as the 27-car field executed their first clean start of the season. He kept pace following 12th-starting Ryan Briscoe until the first round of pit stops. As different strategies began playing out, Meira moved up to tenth.

Pitting on lap 27 after a full course caution came out for Simona DeSilvestro’s spin, the ABC Supply team pulled out a 7.1-second pit stop, but Meira had to be held half a second to avoid hitting the car entering his pit box directly ahead of him. On his way out of pit lane, Meira was tagged by Graham Rahal who shot into the fast lane exiting his pitbox. The impact shoved Meira into the outer pit wall but he was able to continue with only minor damage.

He maintained his tenth place position until the next round of stops. A problem with the fuel fill saw the second stop take 9.4 seconds and Meira dropped to 14th. Compounding the problem was the fact he bumped wheels with Danica Patrick on that out lap and lost time, but both drivers were able to continue.

The next incident occurred on the lap 66 restart when several of the leaders tangled as Helio Castroneves punted teammate Will Power, ensnaring Scott Dixon and Oriol Servia in the first turn. Servia spun a u-turn and came blasting back onto the track cutting off Meira who braked to avoid crashing both of them.

Meira survived that mess and but on lap 71, Ryan Hunter-Reay, who’d been running second, suffered a mechanical problem with his gearbox. As he filtered back through the field, he went wide carrying Meira out to the wall, costing Meira a couple positions. Tony Kanaan and Raphael Matos filed through underneath both Meira and Hunter-Reay. Meira regained one position (Matos) to slide into ninth.

In the final ten laps Power, who’d moved up from 15th, dogged Meira but the Brazilian was able to stave off the pursuit. Power had to settle for 11th.

“We had a real good car but at the end of the fuel stint, we were hurting because the tires gave up,” Meira said afterwards. “And on both my out laps, we had problems—first with Rahal hitting me in pit lane and then Danica bumped wheels with me on my out lap after my second stop. Every time something happened in front of me, I had to make a choice where to go and it was never the right one! So I lost four positions in all but hey, it’s still another top-10 so we can’t complain. This ABC Supply team will have the result we deserve soon!”

Mike Conway posted a strong run to capture his first victory. The remarkable performance came after he sat out most of last year after a vicious accident in last year’s Indianapolis 500 in which he sustained severe injuries to his back a back and leg. Following Conway across the line was Ryan Briscoe, who along with fifth place finisher Alex Tagliani, employed a slightly different fuel strategy to gain track position which worked handily for them. Dario Franchitti finished third with rookie James Hinchcliffe posting his career best finish of fourth.

Meira planned to take the red-eye flight home to Miami after the race to be with his wife Adrianna who is due to give birth to their daughter at any moment. The couple has chosen the name Julianna for the baby.

The Series has next weekend off. On April 27th, the teams head to Sao Paulo, Brazil for their May 1 race event there. Finishing third there last year, Meira scored his first podium finish for the ABC Supply team on the 2.5-mile street course. The race will be broadcast live on Versus starting at 12 noon E.T.


 

ABC Supply Team Ends First Day of Practice in Top Ten

LONG BEACH, Calif. April 15, 2011--Vitor Meira and the ABC Supply team ended their first day of practice for the Grand Prix of Long Beach in the top ten. In the first session in the morning, the team was 21st but after some changes made to the car during the lunchtime break and in the afternoon session, he climbed to eighth. As was the case last weekend, the changes were the right ones.

“Practice was good, we started a little bit behind but we have to try things and to do that there is a certain amount of risk,” said Meira. “We tried something this morning that didn’t work and we came back to what we knew worked in St. Pete and got back to where we thought we had to be. It was a good day. I don’t know how good yet because some people did new tires and some didn’t. I think any time you are within striking distance of P-1 and P-2, it’s very reasonable. I like it. We made right decisions all day long and that’s what counts.”

The team has one more practice session tomorrow morning before qualifying which begins at 2:30 p.m.


 

Notes & Quotes: Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach

Vitor Meira: No. 14 ABC Supply Dallara/Honda

Vitor Meira and the ABC Supply team are in their third season together and making their third appearance in the Grand Prix of Long Beach. In the 2010 event, Meira finished 11th after starting 14th. Following his 12th place finish at Barber Motorsports Park last weekend, he is tenth in the IZOD IndyCar Series standings.

Vitor Meira on the Long Beach street circuit: “There’s a lot of tradition there; it’s a very famous course because of the drivers who’ve raced there, it gets great crowds and it’s always a fun weekend because of the general atmosphere. Last year it was one of the best street races we had aside from Brazil. I’m really confident and looking forward to going back to Long Beach especially with the improvements that have been made in our ABC Supply team since we were there last year. As for the circuit itself, the good thing about that street circuit is that long main straight—street courses with long straights make for good opportunities to pass. At Long Beach, you can pass also on the backstretch and coming into the second third gear complex so it’s a good street course for passing. What you have to watch out for is the hairpin, the last turn! Very often cars are getting together there and it shuts down the track so you can’t pull through. You have to be really careful not to try to pass there because it’s always very inviting. You really think you can pass there but once you get in there, the car doesn’t have enough radius to turn, so a lot of people get stuck there.”

Meira on the double file restarts (post Barber): “I think it’s been very complicated. In my personal opinion, it causes less crashes to have single file restarts. But, if the fans approve the double file restarts, that’s what we have to keep doing because the bottom line is it’s up to the fans. I’m sure IndyCar is looking at it because they also know we’re having a lot of crashes. If it was up to me to decide, I would go back to single file restarts.” [Even though you’ve gained by them?] “I am looking at it as restarts in general, not for myself. If I just looked at it for myself, I would keep letting everybody crash—it’s been working for us. But looking at the big picture, if cars keep crashing all the time, at some point the weaker teams are going to start pulling out because there’s too many crashes and not everybody has the budget for that.”

Meira on key factors for the race: “Like every street course, we have to qualify well, but we have to race better. In Barber, I saw that it was going to be very hard to pass and it was, but passing could be done. If passing could be done in Barber, we will definitely be able to do that in Long Beach. So even if you don’t qualify great, you’ll still be able to move forward if you have a good race car—you need a solid qualifying car but an even better race car.”

Last year at Long Beach: Meira started 14th and finished 11th for what he termed “a fair result.” The race had only one caution period for four laps making it a physically demanding event.

Thomas Semik II wins the Jim Greer Award of Excellence for the Honda Grand Prix of Alabama: Semik won the award for putting in extra hours in the race shop to prep the car for the race weekend. 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, determined by team manager Craig Baranouski and crew chief Tom Howatt, receives a monetary bonus and his name (and the race) engraved on a plaque which will hang in the AJ Foyt Racing Showroom.

ABC Supply returns for its seventh year as primary sponsor of A.J. Foyt’s No. 14 with GAF signing on for another year on the car’s engine cover. The company will host 400 guests this weekend in Long Beach.

ABC Supply roofing customer Bell Roof Company, located in San Bernardino, Calif., will be featured atop the sidepods of the No. 14 ABC Supply Dallara/Honda. Scott Lyon will receive selected merchandise, race tickets, hospitality and garage passes, plus a Meet and Greet with A.J. Foyt and Vitor Meira.

Juan Landaverde is the ABC Supply Honorary Crew Member of the Race this weekend. Landaverde, who works as a delivery services manager out of ABC Supply’s Ontario, Calif. branch office will spend Race Day as part of the pit crew, doing odd jobs as the team preps the car for the race and assist with tire management during the race.

Continuing its patriotic red, white and blue livery, the No. 14 ABC Supply car is sporting a new design which is meant to evoke the scheme of A.J. Foyt’s 1961 Indy 500 winning car. This year marks the 50th anniversary of his first of four Indy 500 victories as a driver.

Headquartered in Beloit, Wis., ABC Supply was founded by Ken and Diane Hendricks in 1982. The company has more than 450 branches in 44 states and is dedicated exclusively to serving professional contractors. ABC Supply has distinguished itself by following a simple guiding principle – take care of contractors better than any other distributor. It accomplishes this by being a “people-first” company that treats its associates with respect and gives them the tools they need to succeed. As a five-time winner of the Gallup Great Workplace Award, ABC Supply is one of only a handful of companies in the world to have earned this honor every year since its inception in 2007. More information is available at www.abcsupply.com.

The Long Beach Grand Prix will be televised live April 17th, Sunday afternoon starting at 3:30 p.m. ET on VERSUS.