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.”
At the end of the day, that’s our job—to take all of the advantages we can see—the gaps, the curbs.
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.