Race Report: Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma SONOMA, CA August 22-- The IZOD IndyCar Series ran their final road course of the season with the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma at Infineon Raceway Sunday afternoon under sunny skies and temperatures in ...
Race Report: Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma
SONOMA, CA August 22-- The IZOD IndyCar Series ran their final road course of the season with the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma at Infineon Raceway Sunday afternoon under sunny skies and temperatures in the low-80s.
For Vitor Meira, it couldn't come soon enough.
"I never thought I would say this, but I'm glad we're going to go oval racing," said Meira after another tough weekend at a road course.
Meira started 21st in the 75-lap race that began with a spectacular accident coming down for the green flag. Dan Wheldon rode over the wheel of another car which launched him onto the wall and he then flipped upside down and skidded as cars dodged him, finally coming to a halt in front of the ABC Supply pit. Wheldon was not injured.
When the race got underway after several laps of caution to clear the track, Meira settled in trying to conserve fuel while advancing as others made mistakes. In his first pit stop on lap 26, the ABC Supply crew got him in and out in 7.39 seconds which allowed him to pass Mario Moraes.
With several cars employing different pit strategies, Meira found himself in 14th position when the first full course yellow came out for Milka Duno's spin in turn 7 on lap 33. He moved into 13th when the raced resumed under green. But by lap 48, the car picked up a push and by lap 50, he radioed in that "it was getting real bad."
The team pitted him three laps earlier than they'd planned because he was losing so much time on the track. The ABC Supply crew fitted him with a brand new set of the red, alternate tires in less than 8 seconds. When he re-entered the track, he lost positions to several cars who had pitted at the very beginning of the final fuel window when it was questionable if they could go the distance. A full course yellow on lap 66 made their fuel gamble pay off and Meira found himself in 16th position with five laps to go.
He moved into 14th with two laps to go when two cars tangled ahead of him but by then his tires had fallen off so much that he had to slow on those final two laps. Alex Tagliani nipped him on the last lap dropping Meira to 15th. He remains 15th in the points standings.
"It was a race with tough ups and downs. The last 5 laps of each stint really hurt us. We gained time on most people the first 20 laps and the last 5 laps we'd lose what we gained and more," Meira said.
Will Power won his fifth race of the season from the pole and was also crowned the Road Course champion. Second through fifth were: Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti, Ryan Briscoe and Helio Castroneves.
The next race will be the Peak Antifreeze Indy 300 at Chicagoland Speedway Saturday night, August 28.