SPARTA, KY Oct.2, 2011—Vitor Meira and the ABC Supply team had a tough day despite having a fast car in the Kentucky Indy 300 at Kentucky Speedway.
Meira started 21st but he didn’t stay there for long. By the time of his first pit stop, he was up to 13th, picking off cars one by one. The 8.2 second stop was clean but as Meira started to leave the pit box, E.J. Viso was turning into his box which was directly ahead of Meira. Meira stopped in time to avoid hitting Viso but by the time he rejoined the field, he’d lost seven positions and was close to being lapped.
Twenty laps later he did get passed by leader Dario Franchitti as the lead pack closed in on him. However, Franchitti was the only one to pass Meira who tucked in behind and stayed with Franchitti even as second, third and fourth place cars couldn’t close in on the duo which began to break away.
A yellow for debris came out on lap 80 giving the ABC Supply crew a chance to get their lap back and also stop for fuel and fresh tires. The key would be to have a flawless pit stop. Meira received the wave around Franchitti at the start/finish line. He put the pedal to the metal and ducked into the pits while the pack circulated slowly still under caution. The ABC Supply team serviced him in less than seven seconds.
He hauled out and beat leader Franchitti to the blend line so he was able to pack up at the end of the lead lap cars before the green was thrown the next lap. Once again Meira started picking off cars and was up to 15th when the yellow came out for Simona DeSilvestro who lost control of her car after exiting her pitbox. She struck one of Viso’s pit crew members who were set out for a pit stop. The crew member suffered a leg injury.
By lap 140 the accident was cleared and the pits were opened. Meira came into his box and was serviced but he couldn’t leave because three cars – Viso, Marco Andretti and Alex Lloyd--crashed into Viso’s box which blocked Meira. The ABC Supply crew rolled him back and got him off but he was back to 17th—and having to re-pass the five cars he had just passed in the stint before.
Once more he began picking off cars one at a time and got up to 11th place Danica Patrick but then he lost momentum, several cars passed him and he dropped back to 16th. With 50 laps to go, the car picked up a push which was later attributed to a broken wicker on the left front wing.
The yellow came out on lap 166 for Ana Beatriz who lost control and spun hitting the wall in Turn 4. Before the restart Meira inherited a couple of spots because of drivers pitting for a splash of fuel; he was 14th on the grid. However, the problem with the front wing was magnified with all of the cars packed up--Meira slipped back to 17th in a couple of laps. As the cars strung out, he was able to pick off Tony Kanaan for 16th with three laps to go in the 200-lapper. He also slipped to 16th in the standings.
Ed Carpenter battled with Franchitti for the final 30 laps of the race to edge ahead of him at the finish line for his first ever IndyCar Series victory. Scott Dixon finished third ahead of James Hinchcliffe and Ryan Hunter-Reay.
On Monday, Meira heads off to Hawaii where he and Tony Kanaan will compete in the Ironman competition next Saturday, Oct. 8th. The 1800-participant competition can be followed on ironmanlive.com. It will be televised on Dec. 10th on NBC.
The final race of the IZOD IndyCar Series will take place in Las Vegas where the championship title will be decided between Franchitti andPower. It will be televised live on ABC-TV on Sunday, Oct. 16th starting at 3:00 pm.