In an event that crowned a champion -- and set a record for the first IndyCar Series race with no yellow flags -- HVM Racing soldiered through the Homestead-Miami Indy 300, ending the 2009 season with a 16th-place finish from E.J. Viso and a 20th-place finish from Robert Doornbos.
The season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway began with some frustration for both the No. 13 PDVSA HVM Racing and the No. 33 HVM Racing crews, but both cars improved over the course of the race. While the championship contenders were duking it out at the front, Viso and Doornbos were gradually making their way from the back to mid-pack as the laps wore on.
Both drivers reported understeer in their cars early on, forcing them to drive conservatively and linger in the back of the field. But with each green-flag pit stop, the crews made wing adjustments that helped with the handling and resulted in better lap times.
With 30 laps to go, Viso was in 16th and Doornbos was in 18th. That's when the team suffered an unexpected blow. The left-side mirror of the No. 33 car came loose and fell off, forcing Doornbos to the pits. Because Indy Racing League rules require two mirrors on a car and the team did not have time to replace it in the remaining laps, Doornbos had to park for the remainder of the race and finished 20th. Viso maintained his position in the final laps and finished strong in 16th.
Dario Franchitti won the battle at the front, claiming both the checkered flag and the 2009 championship. Doornbos finished the season 16th in the standings and Viso wrapped up the year in 18th.
Comments from HVM Racing Team Principal and Owner Keith Wiggins after the Homestead-Miami Indy 300:
"The improvements we made over the course of the race were encouraging, and it's just unfortunate we couldn't make up more ground.
"All in all, it wasn't the season we expected. And you could say that this race is somewhat representative of the season's performance as a whole. But we know what we need to work on and we plan to do so in the off-season."
Comments from PDVSA HVM Racing Driver E.J. Viso after the Homestead-Miami Indy 300:
"It was a difficult race, but I'm pretty happy with the result. We didn't have the speed to go any faster, but we ran a very clean and stable race.
"I need to thank everyone that works at HVM Racing, and I need to thank all my sponsors, friends, family and everyone who helped me these past two years. Maybe they haven't been the most successful years of my career but I definitely learned a lot. It's from these tough years when you learn the most. It's when you start pushing more as a driver and as a person and make the margin of mistake smaller and smaller every time.
"What HVM taught me in these two years is going to be very useful in my 2010 season. I'm looking forward to it being in IndyCar. I have the option to go back to Europe, but I really like this series. I think I want a long-time career here. It's very competitive, it's been a pleasure to race with all these drivers and I'll hopefully be here next year."
Comments from HVM Racing Driver Robert Doornbos after the Homestead-Miami Indy 300:
"We had such work to do with the car coming off the truck into practice, so we were lost going into qualifying, in general just lacking pace. Going into the race, we found out the car was lacking grip on the first two stints, so we made some changes in the pit stops. And I think the last stint was good. I could keep the pace of the leader and I did enjoy myself on that last stint.
"Unfortunately, we couldn't finish the race. We lost a mirror, which is sort of symbolic of how the season went. But we'll forget it, put it behind us and focus on next year."