BALTIMORE Sept. 4, 2011—The inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix lived up to the hype and delivered on its promise of fun and excitement in the heart of Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. With grandstands filled to capacity, the race appeared to be one of the best attended IZOD IndyCar events of the season.
Under grueling conditions which included high temperatures, a narrow and very bumpy course lined by concrete barriers, Vitor Meira drove the ABC Supply car to a ninth place finish. He achieved that despite the ABC Supply crew having to replace a front nose assembly on their second pit stop due to his being involved in a 16-car crash on lap 38.
"The race went better than everyone thought it would,” Meira said afterwards. “We did have a big one and I got caught up in it running 9th. But the ABC Supply team did a great job replacing the broken wing and gambling on fuel. As competitive as this series is, a top-10 is a good result but to have it after all we overcame is even better!"
Meira, who qualified 14th, started in 12th position after two drivers—Tony Kanaan and Helio Castroneves—were involved in an accident in the morning warm-up which forced them to pull out their back-up cars, necessitating that they move to the back of the starting grid.
Meira picked up a couple more positions early and by lap 27, he moved into ninth, which is where he was running when there was a multi-car collision which blocked the track in Turn 9 on lap 38. Meira sustained a damaged front wing and nose assembly. He pitted when the pits were closed to have it replaced and per the rules, he needed to make another full stop when the pits were open which he did on lap 43.
He returned to the field in 18th position. By the time the green flag waved on lap 49, he was in 17th and he moved up to ninth as many drivers had problems. Due to the narrowness of the course, there was very little actual passing on the track itself. Meira held on to ninth even while conserving fuel so he could make it to the end of 75 laps without having to stop again.
The top 10 finish moved Meira from 15th to 13th in the point standings. Will Power dominated the race, winning it from the pole position. "That was the toughest race I've done all year," Power said. "I'm just exhausted, but that was a championship run." Indeed, Power moved to within five points of current point leader Dario Franchitti.
Oriol Servia, who managed to slip through that multi-car pileup, going from 13th to seventh in one lap, finished second after several cars crashed or ducked into the pits for fuel in the waning laps. Kanaan, who went from 22nd to ninth when that multi-car crash occurred, finished third. Rounding out the top five were Franchitti and Scott Dixon.
The ABC Supply team will hustle back to Texas, pull an all-nighter as they prep the cars for the Indy Japan 300, pack their equipment in crates, and load all on the transporter, which will head to Indy on Wednesday. The equipment from all the competitors will be loaded onto planes on Thursday for a September 9th departure for Tokyo.
A week later, the Indy Japan 300 will be broadcast live by Versus starting at 11:30 p.m. ET on Saturday night, September 17th. Due to damage sustained by the 1.5-mile oval track from the earthquake in Japan in the spring, the teams will be competing on the road course at Twin Ring Motegi.