Today's IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines 1. Meira bolstered by strong start 2. Track improvements pay off for race 3. Fans can vote for Firestone Tire-ific Move of the Race 1. Meira bolstered by strong...
Today's IZOD IndyCar Series and Firestone Indy Lights headlines
1. Meira bolstered by strong start
2. Track improvements pay off for race
3. Fans can vote for Firestone Tire-ific Move of the Race
1. Meira bolstered by strong start: If anyone could appreciate what Will Power went through to get back in an IZOD IndyCar Series car, it's Vitor Meira.
So it's fitting that both ended up on the podium in their return to the series at the Sao Paulo Indy 300 on the streets of Sao Paulo.
"It could not be much better than that," said Meira, who finished third in his return to the famed No. 14 car of A.J. Foyt Racing after missing most of the 2009 season with a back injury sustained at the Indianapolis 500.
"I think Will can relate with the back injury and all of that. It gets pretty uncertain sometimes, and having a team behind you, making sure that the seat is available and that they are waiting for you, it makes a big difference on recovery."
Meira, who started the race in 12th, stayed among the top-12 cars until the race was halted by heavy rains. After the red flag delay, his car improved and steadily he worked his way from the back to the front of the pack.
"We overcame a lot here, and it was a mixed--up racing," Meira said. "I think whoever kept their nose clean and was fast enough to make a position in all conditions, came out with a good result, and that's what we did. I know I wasn't the fastest car on normal conditions, but when the conditions became adverse, our car came alive and we started to gain position."
The result was Meira's best finish since his runner-up finish in the 2008 Indianapolis 500 and A.J. Foyt Racing's best finish since Darren Manning finished second at Watkins Glen that same year.
"This is good for the team," Meira said. "A.J. Foyt Racing is not one of the biggest teams out there, and a result always helps to keep people happy and everybody is happy; this is for the people that support us, because they put their faith on us, and we have to return that."
Still Meira knows that one race doesn't make a season, but he hopes to make the most of his good start.
"It's a long season and we have to improve. Right now we finished third, but we have a long way to go to catch the big ones. So I hope that this great atmosphere we will be able to take advantage of. That's just the start of a big thank you I have to give to A.J., and ABC Supply. I hope we get better."
2. Track improvements pay off for race: The grinding of the Sambodromo concrete frontstretch that is part of the 2.6-mile, 11-turn São Paulo Indy 300 temporary street course not only solved the adhesion issues IZOD IndyCar Series drivers experienced March 13, but improved lap times by about 4 seconds in the March 14 qualifying sessions.
"The response by all parties to the concrete issue symbolized the can-do approach all of our Brazilian hosts have exhibited throughout this process," said Terry Angstadt, president of the commercial division of the Indy Racing League, sanctioning body for the initial race of the season and the series' first appearance in Brazil.
"We couldn't be more pleased with all aspects of our first race here, despite the tight timeline. At each and every stage, when a problem arose, the Brazilian team found a solution."
Construction of the circuit didn't begin in earnest until Jan. 15, under the director of Tony Cotman. With packed grandstand and suites - and even patron watching from trees - and plenty of excitement on the track, the event was hailed as a huge success. Verizon Team Penske's Will Power overtook Ryan Hunter-Reay in the No. 37 IZOD car for Andretti Autosport with eight laps left and went on to his second series victory.
Brian Barnhart, president of the competition and racing operations divisions of the Indy Racing League, praised Mayor Gilberto Kassab, race promoter Bandeirantes and Cotman.
"Every track we have been to since 1996 has had a challenge at one time or another, but I can't remember a better and quicker response than we have had here in São Paulo," Barnhart said. "I especially want to comment the city workers who worked through the night grinding and cleaning the track giving us a fast surface for qualifying and the race.
"We race on temporary street tracks in Long Beach (Calif.), St. Petersburg (Fla.), Toronto and Edmonton (Alberta) -- all excellent tracks, all with a history of competition. Despite the limited time to design and execute this track, it ranks with the best quality and the best racing environment of any of those. The people of São Paulo should be very proud of what they have accomplished."
3. Fans can vote for Firestone Tire-ific Move of the Race: The $10,000 prize is awarded after each IZOD IndyCar Series race to the driver who best utilizes his or her Firestone tires to make a bold, dramatic move during the event. This week's nominees are Will Power for his dramatic pass on Lap 58 for the lead and win, Ryan Hunter-Reay for being the first to switch back to slicks after the red flag for rain and leading the race and Vitor Meira for an inspired drive to third place. Fans can vote at www.indycar.com.
The 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series season continues March 28 with the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. The race will be telecast live in High Definition at 3:30 p.m. (ET) by ABC. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network, XM channel 145 and Sirius channel 211. The race also will be carried on www.indycar.com. The 2010 Firestone Indy Lights season opens with the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg March 28 on the streets of St. Petersburg. The race will air live on indycar.com.