Milwaukee 225

Race Report: Milwaukee 225

MILWAUKEE June 19, 2011--In what has been a promising season for Vitor Meira and the ABC Supply team, the Milwaukee 225 race weekend proved to be their first real setback of the season. Meira parked the car when team owner A.J. Foyt made the decision to withdraw from the race after 69 laps. They were credited with 24th place and slipped to 15th in the point standings.

“Like A.J. said, and he has a lot of experience, when a weekend starts off bad, normally it doesn’t stop, it usually ends bad. It was a smart decision but a tough decision too,” Meira said afterwards.

The race day story’s sad ending began with practice on Friday. Despite having a pretty good test session at the mile oval right after the Indy 500, the team was struggling to find the best balance for the car when they returned on race weekend. That struggle took on an exclamation point when Meira spun and hit the wall in turn four towards the end of the second practice late in the afternoon. Luckily, he wasn’t injured. The car was too damaged to repair for Saturday’s qualifying so they rolled out the backup car.

By the end of the second practice on Saturday, Meira felt comfortable with the car. He qualified 22nd but told Foyt that he was being careful on the first qualifying lap. Knowing that he didn’t have another backup car at his disposal, he used discretion to make sure the car got in the race.

“Balance wise I was pretty pleased with the ABC Supply car,” Meira said. “With a bit more practice we definitely would have gone faster and on the first lap too. With a lot of changes, you’re a little tentative on the first lap and we had one crash already so I was more patient than usual with good reason. We hit the balance pretty good, now it’s making the right choices for the race. The race sometimes is a great equalizer since here at Milwaukee you have to go through phases on the tires, the tire starts real good and ends real bad so the car needs to be consistent. If we are in the right direction on older tires, then I think we’ll be able to make up a lot of ground.”

When the race started, Meira had advanced from 22nd to 19th in the first lap which was yellow-flagged when Ryan Hunter-Reay spun and hit the wall. When the race resumed seven laps later, Meira began dropping back. Within two laps, he radioed in that the car was “loose.”

Team director Larry Foyt told him to use his tools but it didn't correct the condition. The team pitted him under green 49 laps into the race, and adjusted the front wing and put on a new set of Firestone tires. However, Meira’s lap times didn’t improve noticeably. It was then that A.J. told him to park it.

“We made some changes when he pitted and it didn’t make it much better so the best thing to do is to write this one off,” said Foyt. “I just felt there was something wrong and before we wreck the car and possibly hurt our driver, we needed to park it. So I did.”

Dario Franchitti won the race. Second through fifth were Graham Rahal, Oriol Servia, Will Power and Danica Patrick.

The team heads to Iowa on Monday. The IZOD IndyCar Series practices and qualifies this Friday for Saturday night’s race at Iowa Speedway. The Iowa Corn Indy 250 will be televised on Versus starting at 8:00 p.m. ET.

Meira Starts 22nd in Milwaukee 225

MILWAUKEE June 18, 2011—With temperatures in the 70s at the Milwaukee Mile, Vitor Meira qualified the ABC Supply car in the 22nd position for the Milwaukee 225 with a two-lap average speed of 165.375 mph. Dario Franchitti won the pole for the 26-car field with an average speed of 170.841 mph; it was his 25th pole position.

The ABC Supply crew unloaded the No. 14 back-up car yesterday evening and installed a Honda engine in it after Meira spun and hit the wall with his primary car in practice. Following the first practice session this morning, the crew made additional changes to the ABC Supply car, which Meira said were in the right direction. Still, he was cautious in his approach to qualifying knowing that he didn’t have another back-up car in reserve.

“Balance wise I was pretty pleased with the ABC Supply car,” Meira said afterwards. “With a bit more practice we definitely would have gone faster and on the first lap too. With a lot of changes, you’re a little tentative on the first lap and we had one crash already so I was more patient than usual with good reason. We hit the balance pretty good, now it’s making the right choices for the race. The race sometimes is a great equalizer since here at Milwaukee you have to go through phases on the tires, the tire starts real good and ends real bad so the car needs to be consistent. If we are in the right direction on older tires, then I think we’ll be able to make up a lot of ground.”

There isn’t any more practice before the 225-lap race which is scheduled to start Sunday afternoon at 3:00 p.m. local time (Central Time). Meira will have a lot of support from the grandstand as there will be more than 850 ABC Supply guests cheering him on!

The race will be televised live on ABC-TV starting at 3:30 Eastern time.

Meira Escapes Injury

MILWAUKEE June 17, 2011--In the first day of practice for the IZOD IndyCar Series's return to the historic Milwaukee Mile, Vitor Meira escaped injury when his No. 14 Honda-powered Dallara jumped loose in turn four of the one mile oval and smacked the wall hard primarily on the car's left side.

“I was trying hard and it stepped out on me," Meira said as he was leaving the infield care center where he was examined and released. "I’m sure the ABC Supply/A.J. Foyt Racing crew will put the car together better than it was and we’ll go race."

The car was too heavily damaged to repair overnight so the ABC Supply team is installing a Honda engine in the back-up car tonight for tomorrow's practice and qualifying.

Meira had just run his quickest lap after putting on new tires and was on pace to run an even quicker lap when the accident happened with approximately a half hour left in the two hour session. He was 17th on the speed chart at the time.

Weather permitting, there are two one hour practice sessions before Saturday's qualifying session at 4:45p.m. Central Time.

NOTES & QUOTES: Milwaukee 225 at the Milwaukee Mile

• Vitor Meira on the key to success at Milwaukee: “Mostly, you have to have a very balanced race car because things do change during the race, tires will get worn and the wind and the track does change a lot so you have to have an overall good handling race car. If you have that in Milwaukee you will be set. It doesn’t mean you have to be the fastest one but if your car’s handling well in traffic on old tires, inside, outside—if you have that, you’ll definitely be okay.”

• Meira on where to pass at The Mile: “Like most of the oval tracks, you pass on the straights but you have to set that up in the corners, and that’s why it’s important for your car to have a good balance in the corners. On which straightaway you make that pass depends a lot on what the car in front of you is doing and where your car is better. The turns are a little bit different -- just like Indianapolis, they are the same but a little bit different. Even though they have the same radius and same level of banking, there are different patches [on the surface] so you have to adapt a little to each.”

• Is Father’s Day more significant to Meira this year with the recent birth of his daughter Juliana? Meira: “In this regard, I don’t know if it will change anything because I always celebrated Father’s Day with my dad and always celebrated it with Luiza (his 7-year-old step daughter). So now there’s one more member in the family but this member is not even aware of Father’s Day yet so it’s not going to change a lot for me. It’s still going to be a day more special than others but not much different from past years.”

• Meira can hold off on mailing his Father’s Day card to Haroldo Meira in Brazil. While 60 countries celebrate Father’s Day on the third Sunday in June, Brazil celebrates Father’s Day on the second Sunday in August. The IndyCar series will be racing at New Hampshire International Speedway that day, August 14th. Interestingly, while fathers were honored with a holiday unofficially since the early 1900s, the U.S. didn’t decree Father’s Day a national holiday until 1972 when President Nixon signed it into law – nearly 60 years after Mother’s Day became one!

• Meira won his second career pole position at the Milwaukee Mile in 2004, the IndyCar Series first visit to the historic one mile oval track. Driving for Rahal Letterman Racing, Meira finished fifth in his first race at the track. He has posted three top-10 finishes in five starts, two of which were fifth place finishes. This weekend will be the first time Meira drives for Foyt at this track. The last time the No. 14 raced here, it was driven by Paul Tracy in 2009 when he subbed for the injured Meira. The ABC Supply team did test at with Meira at The Mile after this year’s Indy 500 in May.

• Randy Baden, Jr., of Katy, Texas, won the Jim Greer Award for the Firestone Twin 275s at Texas Motor Speedway. Baden, a mechanic with the team since 2006, builds the gearboxes and handles the airjack and vent during pit stops. 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 receives a monetary bonus and his name (and the race) engraved on a plaque which hangs in the AJ Foyt Racing Showroom.

• ABC Supply warehouse supervisor, Jose “Noel” Ortiz, of South Milwaukee, WI, will be the honorary crew member for the race. Ortiz will help the team as they prepare for the race and will participate in the pit stops, assisting the tire manager. Ortiz has attended races at the Milwaukee Mile, but he counts his fondest racing memory when he won a demolition derby! He competed in demolition races and mud races in Puerto Rico from 1988-1990. When he found out he was to be the honorary crew member at Milwaukee, he was thrilled and noted it was the best thing to happen to him outside of getting married and the birth of his four children.

• ABC Supply roofing customer Fox Valley Roofing & Siding, serving the Fox Valley area, won the ‘Your Name Here’ contest for the Milwaukee 225. The company name will be atop the sidepods of the No. 14 ABC Supply Dallara/Honda. Sam Smith will receive selected merchandise, race tickets, hospitality and garage passes, plus a Meet and Greet with Vitor Meira. The “Your Name Here” promotion selected winners by random drawing from a pool of entries sent in by ABC Supply customers earlier this year.

• The Milwaukee 225 is the hometown race for ABC Supply Co. which is headquartered in Beloit, WI. The company is entertaining over 850 guests at the race, most of whom are employees working at the National Support Center in Beloit. A.J. Foyt and team principals are flying in early to attend the 2nd Annual ABC Supply Founders Celebration picnic at the company’s sprawling campus across from the picturesque Rock River.

• The Milwaukee 225 will be shown live starting at 3:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, June 19 on ABC-TV.