Notes & Quotes: Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
Vitor Meira: No. 14 ABC Supply Dallara/Honda/Firestone
* Meira on St. Pete being the first race of the season: "The first race of the season is more important in that you find out where you are relative to everyone else. You see what you have to focus on--where your strengths and weaknesses are. There are a lot of expectations built up during the off season so everyone is more anxious and that usually means there are a lot of crashes in the first race. Historically there are a lot of crashes at the street races and now that a street race is the first race of the season--that will make it even more likely that there will be lots of crashes. The part of the track that has a lot of crashes is also the place where you can make or lose a lot of time--the first complex of second gear corners around Turn 5. What I like about St Pete is that it isn't as tight as most street courses---it has a little flow--not like Detroit where you're always braking and having very tight turns."
* Meira on Strategy: "Our strategy is going to depend on how we do in practice--where we are at...we'll either do the best we can or go for it [if car is really good]. I think having all this testing has helped us and I'm really confident. Our strategy is to finish because finishing this race means it will be a top 10."
* Meira on street courses: "Street races are harder on the cars' gearboxes because of the bumps and more shifting--there are a lot of second gear corners. You can do things as a driver like not use as much rear brake because when you do, you're locking the rear wheels which makes it harder on the downshift. And you have to be careful on upshifting too but in the end, it's all a balance between gaining speed or losing time. If you do things like shift earlier and not right on the edge then you lose time and speed.
* A successful weekend? "Maybe I'm being too realistic but a very successful weekend would be a top 5 finish and a successful weekend would be a solid top 10--not one where you lucked into it. Everybody is really pumped and one of the best things we have going for us at St. Pete is Adam [Schaechter, new chief engineer] whose orientation has been street and road courses so that experience will really help."
* Meira on his record at St. Pete: "I'm not sure why but I never had good qualifying sessions there but I always had a good car in the race. I have to get better at qualifying because it is so hard to pass there. Last year I was pretty close to Darren [Manning] throughout the race because we had the same fuel strategy and if I hadn't crashed with Perera, I would have finished fifth or sixth." He was credited with 19th. In 2007, Meira, running fifth, had a gearbox failure on lap 38--he went straight into the barrier at Turn 4. They repaired the car but he placed 16th. The first two years he started 12th and finished fifth.
* ABC Supply returns for its fifth year as primary sponsor of A.J. Foyt's No. 14 with GAF-ELK signing on for another year on the car's engine cover.
* ABC Supply roofing customer Armstrong Homes, of Ocala, FL, won the 'Your Name Here' contest for the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. The company name will be atop the sidepods of the No. 14 ABC Supply Dallara/Honda. Scott Armstrong will receive selected merchandise, race tickets, hospitality and garage passes, plus a Meet and Greet with Vitor Meira. The "Your Name Here" promotion selected winners by random drawing from a pool of entries sent in by ABC Supply customers earlier this year.
* The Honda Indy Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, the 100-lap race around the 14-turn closed circuit on the streets of St. Petersburg, FL, will be televised live April 5th, Sunday afternoon starting at 2:00pm eastern time on Versus (VS).