Race Report: Indy Grand Prix of Alabama LEEDS, AL April 11, 2010--Vitor Meira drove the ABC Supply Dallara/Honda in his 100th IndyCar Series race and finished 18th in the inaugural Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park ...
Race Report: Indy Grand Prix of Alabama
LEEDS, AL April 11, 2010--Vitor Meira drove the ABC Supply Dallara/Honda in his 100th IndyCar Series race and finished 18th in the inaugural Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park Sunday afternoon under sunny skies.
The spectator turnout exceeded forecasts for the first ever IZOD IndyCar Series race held in Alabama with the crowd estimated to top 53,000. Taylor Hicks sang the national anthem and retired NBA star Charles Barkley was the Grand Marshal and waved the green flag.
Starting 20th, the ABC Supply team chose to start on the black primary tires , run a full fuel stint, pop on the red alternate tires and run a short fuel stint, and then finish out the race on the primaries with another long fuel stint. The team's strategy changed in midstream when during the first stop on lap 28, a tire changer took longer than planned; since the fueler was to stop when the tires were finished, the car took on nearly a full load of fuel.
Adapting to the situation, they ran the fuel stint out, pitting on lap 55 and then pitted early in their final fuel window on lap 67 for a splash of fuel in the hope there wouldn't be a yellow before the end of the race. A yellow came out with five laps to go which enabled several cars to stretch their fuel to the checkered.
The race started without incident which was surprising because the track was very narrow making it difficult to pass. Meira was running 20th until some cars tried an alternate fuel strategy and pitted within the first 10 laps. A yellow came out on lap 11 and leaders Will Power and Mike Conway pitted only to see most of the cars in the top six stay on track. Most of the midpack cars pitted but Meira stayed out and came across in eighth spot.
When Meira pitted on lap 28 for fuel and the red alternate tires, the plan was to short fuel to minimize his run on the red alternate tires. However, the stop came off slower than planned so the car took on nearly a full load of fuel. Meira rejoined the race in 22nd spot. As the different fuel strategies were engaged, he climbed back up to 10th by lap 44. When he pitted for tires and fuel on lap 55, he was running twelfth. The second stop was normal but he rejoined the race in 21st spot. Again he climbed up the scoring board to 11th as other cars pitted. When he short-pitted for fuel only on lap 67, he dropped back to 19th. When the yellow came out with five laps to go, it dashed his hopes to pick up about four more spots but he did pick up another position when the pit stops cycled out.
Helio Castroneves won the race followed by Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti, Will Power and Marco Andretti, who had to make a late stop for a splash of fuel with about eight laps to go.
"Overall, it wasn't as we wished or thought it would be, we thought we'd be a bit better," Meira said after the race. "It's a shame. But we'll go back to the shop and review everything and then head to Long Beach and try to gain some points back."
Meira is now 10th in the standings. The IZOD IndyCar Series' next stop is the Long Beach Grand Prix Sunday, April 18th in southern California. The race will be televised on Versus starting at 3:30pm.