Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama
Race Report: Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama
LEEDS, Ala. April 10, 2010--There’s an old saying in racing, ‘You live by the traffic, and die by the traffic’ which these days could be changed to ‘You live by the double file restarts, and die by the double file restarts.’
It was certainly true for Vitor Meira and the ABC Supply team in the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park, the aptly named park-like circuit outside of Birmingham.
As he did in the season opener two weeks ago, Meira was able to take advantage on the start and the first five double file restarts as he came from 19th to eighth with 22 laps to go. However, on the final restart, Helio Castroneves, who was seventh and on the inside, went very wide in turn two running Meira off the track and into the grass. Keeping the No. 14 under control, he made his way back onto the asphalt, but not before six cars zipped past him dropping him to 14th.
Meira fought back and picked up two spots to finish 12th to remain in the top-10 in the IZOD IndyCar points standings. He is currently 10th with 42 points and just two points shy of being tied for seventh.
“Every restart there was an incident and on most of them we took advantage of it because we were well positioned and the car was good so we could take advantage of it,” said Meira. “Unfortunately, there are still people out there including Castroneves that I don’t think are getting the concept of double-file restarts; he’s acting like it’s a single file restart having the entire track for himself. That hurt us badly on the last restart because he pushed me off the track into the grass and we lost six positions.”
It was a frustrating finish for Meira and the ABC Supply crew whose pit stops were all completed in less than eight seconds. In fact, the stops were faster each time with the final stop coming in at 7.08 seconds!
However, the team overcame struggles with the car in the practices and qualifying on Friday and Saturday to give Meira a car he could race competitively on Sunday. After making changes to the car after qualifying, Meira reported that the changes worked well in the Sunday morning warm-up.
For Meira that was the silver lining he saw in the weekend. “What I take out of here is that the ABC Supply car improved huge over last year and that was our primary goal,” he said. “The final result is always the result of your work and I feel much more comfortable leaving here this year than I did last year.”
Will Power won the race from the pole leading every lap. Second through fifth were Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti, Marco Andretti and Oriol Servia.
The team heads to California this week for the Long Beach Grand Prix which will be broadcast live this Sunday, April 17th, at 3:30 p.m. ET on the VERSUS channel.
Meira Will Start 19th in the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama
LEEDS, Ala. April 9, 2011 — Driving the No. 14 ABC Supply Honda/Dallara, Vitor Meira qualified 19th for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama this morning at Barber Motorsports Park, the picturesque 2.3-mile road course just outside of Birmingham.
The team struggled to find the set-up in yesterday’s practice sessions, one of which was shortened due to rain and because they were in the top 10 in the IZOD IndyCar Series standings. This morning’s short 20-minute warm-up saw them still looking for speed. Changes made before qualifying did help but not enough. The team is making more changes this afternoon that they expect will make the car more competitive for the race.
“Qualifying didn’t go as we expected after the test days we had here--and I’m just comparing to ourselves, not the others [who tested here],” said a disappointed Meira. “We tried to improve but it didn’t go the way we wanted but that’s going to happen during the year. It’s not the first time and it won’t be the last. What counts is that we learn from it and improve and we did improve the ABC Supply car from the last practice to qualifying—just not enough. We’ll be okay race day; I hope there’s a lot of ‘changes’ on the starts and on strategy so we can take advantage of those.”
“We learned some things from this morning’s practice to qualifying and we’re making some more changes that everyone agrees should make the car handle better,” said A.J. Foyt who is here after missing the season opener in St. Petersburg, Fla. two weeks ago due to coronary artery stent procedure.
The team will see the benefits of their decisions in the final warm-up scheduled to take place Sunday morning from 9 – 9:30 a.m.
Will Power won the pole for the second straight year while teammate Ryan Briscoe fills out the front row. Third through sixth are: Scott Dixon, Helio Castroneves, Justin Wilson and Oriol Servia.
The pre-race coverage on VERSUS begins at 3:00 p.m. ET with the race set to start at 3:45.
Notes & Quotes: Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama
Vitor Meira and the ABC Supply team are in their third season together and make their second appearance in this ‘Heart of Dixie’ race together. In the 2010 inaugural event, Meira finished 18th after starting 20th. Following his eighth place finish in St. Petersburg, FL, March 27th, Meira is eighth in the IZOD IndyCar Series standings.
Vitor Meira on Barber Motorsports Park: “What I like about Barber is that it is like a European track; it has high speed corners and a lot of elevation changes. But what makes it very challenging is that it has very few opportunities to pass which means qualifying as well as strategy will be very important.”
Meira on the double file restarts: “I think in St. Pete it was more hectic than it will be in Barber. In St. Pete you had nowhere to go but at Barber you have grass and the runoff areas. The first turn at Barber is a faster corner, it isn’t a 2nd gear corner, it is a 4th gear corner, so it will be better. Also everybody is a little concerned about those restarts and the start—so I think everybody is going to take care of each other a little more than we did in St. Pete. Still we’ll be learning from it…we are far from doing them well like we do single file starts, but we’re adjusting and getting better.”
Did the fact that St. Pete was the first race of the year make a difference? Meira: “That always has something to do with it—you saw Brazil last year? The biggest accident in St Pete was on the start and the start is always double file, the new rule wasn’t the cause of the first accident—it was the cause of the second and the third. The first one would have happened anyway because we always start double file so we have to get better at taking care of ourselves and each other. But then again, on my watch, the greatest road course driver that lived was [Ayrton] Senna, and he used to say, ‘if you stop going for a gap, you’re not a race driver anymore.’ At the end of the day, that’s our job—to take all of the advantages we can see—the gaps, the curbs. And it is the job of IndyCar to police us so we know what is acceptable and what is not. We do know, we just have to know how far we can push.”
Meira on key factors for the race: “For me personally, qualifying well will be important. If we qualify well, I expect to have a solid, consistent car with both types of tires (red and black compound tires) and consistent pit stops—if we have that, we’ll be okay.”
A.J. Foyt returns to action in Alabama: After passing up the IndyCar season opener to have a stent put in his main artery, A.J. Foyt is returning to action for his first race of the season here at Barber Motorsports Park. “I feel pretty good,” said Foyt. “I’m glad to be back.”
Rodney Klausmeyer wins the inaugural Jim Greer Award of Excellence: 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. Klausmeyer, transporter driver and the fueler on pit stops, received the inaugural award because he did an excellent job of setting up the pits and garage area under difficult circumstances and adapted quickly to the new fueling rig developed by Honda.
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 250 guests this weekend.
ABC Supply roofing customer McAdams Vinyl Siding & Trim, located in Montgomery, Ala., will be featured atop the sidepods of the No. 14 ABC Supply Dallara/Honda. Greg McAdams will receive selected merchandise, race tickets, hospitality and garage passes, plus a Meet and Greet with A.J. Foyt and Vitor Meira.
Jeff McCoy is the ABC Supply Honorary Crew Member of the Race this weekend. McCoy, of Anniston, Ala., 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. The 45-year-old father of three is a route truck driver for ABC Supply. Last year’s inaugural race at Barber was his first IndyCar race but he has driven his own race car at local dirt tracks.
Alabama Connections: ABC Supply CEO David Luck is a 1971 graduate of Auburn University and remains a staunch supporter of his alma mater where he established an endowed professorship in the University’s College of Business. He is planning to attend his second straight Indy Grand Prix of Alabama this weekend. … A.J. Foyt, no stranger to the “Heart of Dixie,” raced in 13 NASCAR Grand National (now Sprint Cup) events at Talladega Superspeedway. His best finish was 3rd in 1978 and his last top-five finish in that series came at Talladega in 1985 when he placed fifth. He also set a closed course speed record of 217.584mph there 37 years ago with his Indy car; it lasted until Mark Donohue set a new record of 221.160mph at the same track in 1975.
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 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 Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama will be televised live April 10th, Sunday afternoon starting at 3:00pm eastern time on VERSUS.
For more information, please check our web site www.ajfoytracing.com and our AJ Foyt Racing fan page on Facebook. Sponsor ABC Supply has launched a fan page: ABC Supply Racing. To view those pages, (search ‘AJ Foyt Racing’ or ‘ABC Supply Racing’), one must register for Facebook (which is free).