Birmingham: AJ Foyt Racing preview

* Vitor Meira will make his 100th start in the IZOD IndyCar Series this weekend in the inaugural Indy Grand Prix of Alabama Presented by Legacy Credit Union at Barber Motorsport Park. He made his IndyCar Series debut in 2002 at Kentucky Speedway...

* Vitor Meira will make his 100th start in the IZOD IndyCar Series this weekend in the inaugural Indy Grand Prix of Alabama Presented by Legacy Credit Union at Barber Motorsport Park. He made his IndyCar Series debut in 2002 at Kentucky Speedway where he started 13th and finished 15th. He proved to be a quick study because in his fourth and final start for Team Menard in 2002, he won the pole and finished third at Texas Motor Speedway.

* Meira on making his 100th IZOD IndyCar Series Start: @"Already? It didn't seem like it. A hundred starts is proof that I've been doing a good job because I never had to pay to drive so I always had to prove that I could do the job that people were expecting. I think that [reaching this milestone] is one way to prove that and to feel good about it. There is a lot to be done still! I have not done nearly everything that I want to do so I'm still pushing with the same will I had at my first race. There's still a lot to be done."

* Meira on the changes in the Series since his debut: "IndyCar has evolved a lot since then. I have not seen as many changes as the guys from CART, for example Dario [Franchitti] and all of those guys saw. When I joined, we did not have a lot of the teams we have nowadays. I saw IndyCar going from only ovals--mostly high speed ovals--to short ovals then to a couple road courses per year to now where we have 50% road courses and 50% ovals. I've seen Dallaras, G-Forces, Chevys, Hondas and it's good to see and have this experience. It shows that IRL is doing a good job evolving it because there are only better teams and things are getting more and more competitive every year. To be part of it is cool too and to share the track with all the other drivers that have so much experience too." [And what will the next 100 races look like to you?]

"Hopefully it will go by like the first 100, full of achievements -- and entertaining!"

* Meira on key factors to success this weekend: "Among the many key factors we're going to have to have this weekend is qualifying well. It is very important because of what the track presents to us which is a great facility with lot of high speed corners but very tough to pass. Having a good qualifying run will help. It won't be a deciding factor but will help. We're still going to have to have a good consistent car but qualifying is going to be more important than it is at other tracks."

* Meira on why Barber Motorsports Park is so physically demanding: "When we were testing there, I felt it was very physically-demanding and I wasn't the only one because I spoke with other drivers and they also thought the same thing. I think the reason for that is a lot of high speed corners and not very long straights. With the high speed corners, the car gets very heavy and very nervous so you have to be on your toes all the time. Not only that the steering gets very heavy because of the amount of downforce. With that there aren't very many long straights so we don't have a lot of time to rest. It's quite a lot like Sonoma but with more high speed corners. We don't have a lot of time to rest at Sonoma but there aren't many high speed corners and Barber there are so that's what makes it so physically demanding."

* First Time Performance on road/street courses: In first time appearances at road/street courses, Meira has qualified in the top-10 twice and finished in the top-10 thrice; two of those finishes were in the top-five. He accomplished it driving for three different teams (Rahal-Letterman, Panther and Foyt). Foyt's ABC Supply team posted two top-10 starts, six top-10 finishes, two of which were in the top five. Foyt used five different drivers: A.J. Foyt IV and Jeff Bucknum in 2005, Darren Manning in 2007-08, Meira and Ryan Hunter-Reay the past two years.

* Meira tested at Barber earlier this year: Meira was 13th out of 21 drivers on the 2.38 mile, 17-turn Barber Motorsports Park track for the first 2010 Open Test held Feb 24-25. The weather was unusually cold which factored into the many incidents during the two-day test. Meira and the team were satisfied with their results given it was their first time to the track and Meira's first time back at a road course since Long Beach in April, 2009.

* Last Race: Meira started 17th in St. Petersburg and finished 15th. Poor handling on the alternate (red-rimmed) tires which led team to use a contrarian pit strategy was primarily responsible for the performance. He's now eighth in the Series standings.

* ABC Supply returns for its sixth year as primary sponsor of A.J. Foyt's No. 14 with GAF-ELK signing on for another year on the car's engine cover.

-source: aj foyt racing

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Darren Manning , A.J. Foyt IV , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Jeff Bucknum , Vitor Meira