Indy 215

Race Report: Indy 215

LOUDON, N.H. August 14, 2011—In a wild, crazy and confusing race, Vitor Meira came home with his second straight top-10 finish in the Indy 215 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Rain became a major factor throughout the race which was originally scheduled to run 225 laps around the 1 mile speedway in the IZOD IndyCar Series return to the Granite State.

Under threatening skies, the race began 20 minutes early but was under yellow on the first lap when Mike Conway (who started 12th) spun coming off turn 2. Although most drivers missed hitting the spinning No. 27, Graham Rahal was not so fortunate, hitting Conway and ending his race against the inside tire barrier.

On the lap 8 restart, Helio Castroneves also spun coming off turn 2. He was able to rejoin the race but was several laps down to the leaders. Pole winner Dario Franchitti had the measure of the field as he outpaced everyone, including Meira who was lapped by Franchitti early on.

Meira avoided a few close calls to pick up several positions by the time of the first caution for moisture on lap 75. The race restarted 32 laps later on lap 107. Three laps later, Tomas Scheckter and Marco Andretti touched wheels resulting in Scheckter crashing and taking out Tony Kanaan, who flipped after striking the infield tire barrier. All drivers escaped uninjured.

When the race restarted on lap 118, race leader Dario Franchitti and second place Takuma Sato tangled on the homestretch; Meira was running 13th at the time. Franchitti and J.R. Hildebrand , who was caught up in the melee, were out of the race but Sato continued after making a couple pit stops under caution.

The second set of pit stop cycles began on lap 161 and Meira stopped on lap 167 with the crew taking out a turn of front wing. Meira rejoined the race in 13th and as the pit stops cycled out by lap 192, he was 11th.

That was where he was running when IndyCar officials assessed a stop and go penalty to EJ Viso who had not taken it immediately so he was docked a lap on lap 204, moving Meira into 10th. The yellow came on lap 206 for moisture on the track for the second time. On lap 212, officials rearranged the cars so that the seven cars on the lead lap were nose to tail.

A restart on lap 218 saw Danica Patrick spin coming off turn 4 which triggered a multicar crash involving fourth place Will Power, fifth place Sato and backmarkers Ed Carpenter and Ana Beatriz. Meira was in eighth spot when the dust cleared with Patrick limping around the track with a damaged suspension.

Race officials decided to throw the red flag on lap 220 calling the race to a halt. They admitted they made a mistake in throwing the green flag when the track was still wet on lap 218. In an unprecedented move, they declared the race over after 215 laps, allowing the crashed cars to retain the positions they were in before the crash which reverted Meira back to 10th.

The decision to not restart the race was met with boos by the crowd in attendance and did not sit well with some of the drivers including Meira.

“All that happened at the end of the race isn’t worth talking about—everything speaks for itself-but I think it was big mistake [to not finish the race],” Meira said afterwards. “Our car was okay but we came from a very tough run of small ovals. We had a bad Milwaukee race and a bad race in Iowa so at least we got some points back and our confidence back here which is a very tough track. The ABC Supply team did a good job, we got places on the starts and a lot of people were having problems with cold tires and we were ok on that. We got a lot of positions by other people’s mistakes and crashes. It’s good to be top 10 but bittersweet – to be honest, we should have finished seventh but instead we’re 10th.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay won the race. Second through seventh were Oriol Servia, Scott Dixon, James Hinchcliffe, Will Power, Patrick and Sato. Meira remains 14th in the point standings., the official web site if the IZOD IndyCar Series, reported the following:

INDYCAR president of competition and racing operations Brian Barnhart, the Race Director for the IZOD IndyCar Series, said it ultimately was a "mistake on Race Control's part" to call for the restart.

"The only right thing to do and the fair thing to do is to go to the running order before the restart," he said. "It would be one thing if it rained hard, your decision's a pretty easy one to make. But when you get calls from track safety and observer posts around the racetrack that report light moisture, the tough decision is to make that call whether you continue with the event or not.

"Because no matter what, our No. 1 priority in every decision we make is safety. They're counting on you to make the right decision. Obviously, toward the end of that race, with the attempted restart, we made the wrong one. And that's one of those things that just makes you feel sick to your stomach. You want to make every effort that you can for the fans watching on television and the ones that are in the grandstands here, but you can't do that at the expense of safety.

"We didn't receive any objections from our pit techs talking to the teams or the observers around the track or Johnny Rutherford out there in the pace car."

The Series will have next weekend off before heading to Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. for the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma Aug. 26-28.

Vitor Meira Qualifies 19th for Indy 225

LOUDON, N.H. August 13, 2011—Vitor Meira qualified the no. 14 ABC Supply Dallara/Honda in 19th position Saturday afternoon as the IZOD IndyCar Series returned to New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the first time since 1998.

“I tried a little harder on the final lap but the car didn’t take it,” Meira said after his run. “It was worth it on the first lap but I had to get out of it on the second lap. But that is our philosophy now, we’re going for it. We’ve been conservative up to now but now is the time to risk more.”

Meira‘s second lap had been a tenth quicker in turns 1 and 2 compared to his previous lap but as he entered turns 3 and 4, the car began to push so he had to lift. In fact, Meira got all the way out of the throttle in turns 3 and 4 and had to downshift, costing him 3 or 4 tenths according to engineer Jeff Britton.

Meira turned his first lap in 22.12 seconds and his second lap in 22.26 seconds which averaged out to a speed of 166.253mph.

Meira will have a final half-hour practice session tomorrow morning when the team will run full tanks to check the fuel mileage, see how the balance shifts throughout the fuel stint and check tire wear. Meira said, “As for the race, I know we’ve improved the tire wear on the car but we’ll know more after final practice tomorrow.”

Dario Franchitti won the pole. Rounding out the top five were Oriol Servia, Tony Kanaan, James Hinchcliffe and Ryan Hunter-Reay.

The Indy 225 will be broadcast by ABC-TV starting Sunday afternoon at 3:30 p.m.


NOTES & QUOTES: Indy 225

• Meira on New Hampshire Motor Speedway: “It’s a very different type of track because it is a paperclip shape with low progressive banking in the turns which makes it very different from anything we run out there. By progressive banking I mean that the first lane is 2 degrees, then it goes to 4 in the next lane and then to 6 or 7 degrees in the third lane. In that way it is the same as Iowa or Homestead but we haven’t had a paperclip shape since St. Louis I think. Comparing it to the other short tracks we run, New Hampshire has more grooves than Milwaukee but it’s not as easy to pass as Iowa. I would say it is in between Iowa and Milwaukee.”

• Meira on the keys to success at New Hampshire this weekend: “I believe the key will be having a solid car all race long because things are going to change so much and there is not a lot that we know about this track. With a solid car, we can do better when things do change because a solid car will be more consistent throughout the run. It may not be the fastest car at the beginning of a stint but it won’t drop off that much at the end of a stint. It’s very hard to say for sure how the race will turn out.”

• Meira on his first time to New England: “So far so good. We are staying in Concord which is the state capital so you have the Capitol building with the beautiful gold dome. It’s nice but I haven’t had a lot of time for sightseeing. I haven’t seen that much -- mostly highways and trees.” Note: According to Wikipedia, Concord’s 1819 State House is the oldest capitol in which legislative branches meet in their original chambers.

• Meira on his first time to Boston: “Boston seems pretty cool—in fact it has the biggest Brazilian community here in America, even bigger than Miami. I have no clue why. In Miami I watch a Brazilian TV station and the commercials are from all over America and there are a lot of commercials about Brazilian stuff in Boston. Then I asked about it when I was having dinner with one of my friends from the embassy and he told me Boston has the biggest Brazilian community. So weird.”

• Vitor Meira on testing Thursday in New Hampshire: “It was a test day and you have to try things. It was a brand new track for us and we did a lot of things that were right and we did a lot of things that weren’t right but those things were all crossed off the list.”

• Past performance at New Hampshire: The Foyt team’s best finish came in 1996 with Scott Sharp who won the inaugural Indy Racing League race at the one mile speedway. Foyt’s Chief Engineer Jeff Britton, who worked with another team in the late 90s, said the NHMS track is now completely different from what it was back then. The track’s turns were reconfigured in 2002 and the track was repaved in 2003.

• ABC Supply roofing customer, JP Carroll Construction, Inc. located in West Hartford, CT, won the ‘Your Name Here’ contest for the Indy 225. The company name will be atop the sidepods of the No. 14 ABC Supply Dallara/Honda. Owner Jim Carroll will receive selected merchandise, race tickets, hospitality and garage passes, plus a Meet and Greet with A.J. Foyt and Vitor Meira.

• Mike Keidel will be the ABC Supply Honorary Crew Member of the race. Keidel, 45, has worked for ABC Supply for four years and is a Material Handler in their Sudbury, Mass. branch. He lives in Cherry Valley, Mass.

• ABC Supply will entertain 600 guests in their hospitality tent at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Since the company began sponsoring A.J. Foyt’s team in 2005, they have entertained over 26,000 associates and customers at the races.

• The Indy 200 will be shown live on ABC-TV at 3:30 p.m. E.T. Sunday, August 14.