SONOMA, Calif. August 28, 2011 — Driving the ABC Supply No. 14 Dallara/Honda, Vitor Meira started 28th and finished 22nd in the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma at Infineon Raceway Sunday afternoon.
After struggling the first two days, the changes to the car made after Saturday’s qualifying session improved it for the race. Starting in the rear, the ABC Supply team opted to run an alternate fuel strategy. They pitted Meira on lap eight in the hope of getting a caution before the others pitted which would have given Meira good track position.
Unfortunately a miscue on that first pit stop (which took 20 seconds) saw Meira lose quite a bit of track position. When he rejoined the field, he was passed by the top five cars as he was getting back up to speed. Meira kept pace with the lead pack, running behind fifth place Scott Dixon and actually pulling away from sixth place James Hinchcliffe during that fuel stint.
As the race wore on, Meira continued to run a good pace but due to the difficulty of passing cars at the 2.3 mile road course, he advanced only when others had difficulty.
“We came here three steps behind and closed up the gap but we ran out of time,” Meira said. “We made the best step from Saturday night to Sunday. We had decent pace but we just started so far back and it’s very hard to pass here, nearly impossible. We had to race on a fuel strategy which didn’t pay off. It was a very tough weekend. We have to regroup because we’re still alive on the championship for the top 10 and we’re not giving up.”
Team Penske dominated the race finishing the way they started with pole winner Will Power taking the checkered flag first ahead of teammates Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe. Fourth and fifth place starters Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon rounded out the top five respectively.