DREYER & REINBOLD RACING SURVIVED THE MAYHEM AT THE HONDA GRAND PRIX OF ST. PETERSBURG
St. Petersburg, FL (March 27, 2011) - The 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series opener in St. Petersburg, Florida proved to be an exciting and eventful race for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. With the introduction of double-file restarts, it was a matter of everything that could happen did happen, and luckily, DRR pilots, Ana Beatriz (No. 24 Ipiranga) and Justin Wilson (No. 22 TranSystems), kept out of the trouble.
Today marked the first time that the IZOD IndyCar Series would utilize the double-file restart procedure. Luckily, the two DRR cars were able to showcase their speed and consistency as they stayed out of harms way. As the green flag dropped, it was a matter of keeping their noses clean, and both Wilson and Beatriz did that, making it through turn one safely. The yellow came out on the first lap and the duo managed to escape the mess. Wilson, who started in 6th position, fell back to 7th place and Bia went from 20th to 10th all in the first lap. From that point on, it was survival mode for everyone. In the first 15 laps, there were four yellow restarts, which continued to make things interesting.
Ana Beatriz worked diligently to stay out of trouble, but on lap 5 made contact with Danica Patrick in Turn 1. She suffered tire damage as a result and had to pit on Lap 6. Fortunately, Beatriz was able to go back out, which put her on an alternate strategy. As the rest of the race played out for the rookie, the experience and laps helped her survive the event. The Brazilian driver quickly impressed the crowd as she drove a smart race and just hung in there. She came in on laps 12, 40 and 69 for fuel and tires. Earlier on in the race, Beatriz injured her wrist and will head to Indianapolis for further evaluation. Despite the injury, Bia brought the car home in 14th position.
Like his teammate, Justin kept a straight head and kept chugging along. On the first lap, he was forced to steer a wide line around the outside of the Lap 1 carnage and ended up a net 6th after the race was restarted. After that point, many cautions flew due to restart-induced incidents.
This first accident didn't cost him too many track positions, and he was keeping his head down in 5th place until the first round of pit-stops on Lap 38. The fifth and final yellow flew on Lap 39 and the restart on Lap 44 proved to be the turning point in Wilson's race. The Brit had contact with Danica Patrick, which ultimately cut his tire. He hung in as long as he could, but had to pit on Lap 56 to replace the tire after sitting in 8th position. As a result, Wilson dropped back to 11th and pitted again for fuel and tires on Lap 71. After the contact with Patrick, he injured his wrist, but managed to bring home the No. 22 TranSystems machine in 10th place. Like Beatriz, he will head to Indianapolis for further evaluation.
The Indianapolis-based squad will head home to Indianapolis and prepare for the second round of the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama.
What they had to say about the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg...
Justin Wilson, No. 22 TranSystems: "It was a tough day. We were trying to be patient in that first half and managed to avoid all the mess in the first few restarts. But there was some pretty crazy driving going on and eventually we got collected on the restart on Lap 13. I had someone swerve at me and put me on the grass going into Turn 1. As we were coming into Turn 1 someone turned into the side of me. I went on the inside curb to try and avoid him, but he caught and bent my front suspension. At the same time I got hit on the rear which cut one of the tires. We hung on as long as we could trying to stretch it out, but it continued to deflate and eventually we had to come in and swap it out and do an extra pit stop. Up until that point the car was pretty quick, but it was a real handful after that. Nothing went our way today, but I think we're in pretty good shape for the season. We just need to keep working at it."