By A.J. Foyt
The Kentucky Indy 300 was one of those races where everything fell against us.
We started off strong. Vitor Meira was second in the first practice when he ran the ABC Supply car in race trim. He was able to pass cars inside and outside so we knew we had a good car for the race. The second practice he ran in qualifying trim and he dropped off a bit. We figured he was about 11th quick.
For some reason in qualifying, he didn’t have the speed he’d shown earlier. He qualified 21st out of 29 cars which was very disappointing for him and us. But Kentucky is one of those tracks where you can pass and we knew we had a good ‘race’ car so I wasn’t too worried.
When the green dropped, Vitor started making his way to the front. By the time he came in for his first pit stop, he’d worked his way up to 12th. We had a good stop under green but when he went to leave, E.J. Viso was coming into his pitbox which was right ahead of us. They almost hit but my son Larry Foyt who calls the races, stopped Vitor in time. But we had to roll him back and then send him out.
You just feel sick because he lost all those spots he’d gained plus a lot of track position. He was back to 20th and 20 laps later, the pack caught him and Dario Franchitti put him a lap down. But he did have a fast car because he tucked in behind Franchitti and the two of them pulled away from the pack!
The yellow came out for debris on the track about seven laps later. We stayed out while the cars on the lead lap pitted. Then we got the wave around the pace car so we got our lap back. Then Vitor pitted and the ABC Supply crew fueled and changed tires in 6.9 seconds. That quick stop allowed Vitor to beat the pace car to the blend line so he hustled to the back of the line in time to take the green.
Once again, he started picking cars off one at a time. In the meantime our pit stand was a prime seat for some of the action that took place in the pits which was plenty that day. Simona DeSilvestro lost control of her car exiting her pitbox and came into Viso’s pitbox where his crew had tires laid out because they were waiting for Viso to pit. Most of the guys got out of the way except the right front tire changer. He jumped up onto the sidepod of DeSilvestro’s car as she slid broadside into the pitbox. His move turned what could have been a terrible accident into just a bad accident. He had a leg injury but it could have been a lot worse.
That accident brought out the yellow. By this time Vitor was back up to 14th. He came into his pitbox and we gave him a good stop again but all hell broke out in Viso’s box. Marco Andretti was racing Graham Rahal down pit lane. Viso was ahead of Andretti and Alex Lloyd was ahead of Rahal. As Viso and Lloyd turned into their pit boxes, Andretti was between them and the three of them made contact – it looked like all three were going for the same parking space.
Vitor was ready to exit his pit box but he had nowhere to go. The crew had to pull him back and he finally got out of his box but he lost more positions instead of gaining them. He was back to 17th. Once again he started to make his way to the front and had gotten as high as 12th but when he tried to pass Danica Patrick for 11th, she ran him high, he got into the marbles and instead of gaining a position, he lost four!
On lap 166, the yellow came out for Ana Beatriz’s crash in turn 4-she was okay-and he was back up to 15th. But in the final stint he dropped back to 17th, he couldn’t pass in the pack but once the cars strung out, he could race them down. With three laps to go, he passed Tony Kanaan for 16th.
It was a disappointing race for us because the car was fast--Vitor had the fifth quickest lap in the race. It felt like every time we moved forward one step, things happened to put us back two. At least we know the ABC Supply car will be fast at Las Vegas Motor Speedway which is another 1.5 mile banked track like Kentucky.
I’d like to congratulate Ed Carpenter and his team owner Sarah Fisher on winning their first race together! Ed drove a helluva race beating Franchitti across the finish line by inches. The last 20 laps these guys were trading the lead back and forth—the fans were on their feet watching this fight at over 216 miles per hour. I can tell you there is nothing that compares to winning a race like that. It is the best feeling in the world.
We have a weekend off before we head to Las Vegas for our final race of the year and final race for the current Dallara Indy car and Honda engine. There will be a record 34 cars at that race. If everyone qualifies without any problems, we will be starting more cars than we do in the Indianapolis 500 on a track that is a mile shorter in length.
I hope the fans turn out for this one. The IZOD IndyCar championship is on the line because point leader Will Power had problems in Kentucky which gave the lead back to Franchitti. If you can’t be there in person, tune in on Sunday, Oct. 16th for the race which will be broadcast on ABC starting at 3:30 p.m. Eastern Time.
It will be a no-holds-barred fight—just like you’d expect in Las Vegas!