TORONTO July 18, 2010--Vitor Meira and the ABC Supply team took lemons and made sweet lemonade out of the Honda Indy Toronto IndyCar race Sunday afternoon. Meira started 26th and finished 11th to advance to 12th in the IZOD IndyCar Series point ...
TORONTO July 18, 2010--Vitor Meira and the ABC Supply team took lemons and made sweet lemonade out of the Honda Indy Toronto IndyCar race Sunday afternoon. Meira started 26th and finished 11th to advance to 12th in the IZOD IndyCar Series point standings.
Going into the race, A.J. Foyt and the ABC Supply team planned an alternate pit strategy knowing that it was their only chance to break into the top half of the field because it was difficult to pass on the 1.75 mile street course through Toronto's Exhibition Park.
Starting last because of a problem with the brakes in qualifying, Meira passed row-mate Milka Duno who was off the pace on the start on the backside of the track as the field came around for the green. In trying to catch up to the field, he overcooked it going into Turn 8 and ran into the runoff area. He did a quick spin around and rejoined the field but was nearly half a lap down to the leaders on the first lap. He did catch up to the tail of the pack within 10 laps.
Meira was in 24th when the first full course yellow came out for contact between teammates Takuma Sato and Mario Moraes on lap 16. Meira, and Paul Tracy, in 18th, stayed out while everyone else pitted. Meira moved into second behind Tracy.
On the restart on lap 21, Helio Castroneves was in third and as the field approached Turn 3, Castroneves rear-ended Meira and then slid straight into the Turn 3 tire barrier while Meira continued on. That accident brought out another full course yellow.
On the restart Meira lost second to pace setters Dario Franchitti and Will Power before another caution slowed the field. Under green again, pole winner Justin Wilson passed Meira for fourth on lap 32. When the yellow came out on lap 33, Meira ducked into the pits on lap 34 to fuel up and put on the red-rimmed tires.
The team had decided to make the red alternate tire stint its shortest stint since Meira was more comfortable on the primary black-rimmed tires. The crew put in several turns of front wing for the new tires and did it under eight seconds, allowing Meira to beat Tracy, (who had been running second when he pitted), out of the pits.
Meira came out in 19th position and soldiered on until his next stop on lap 51. He was one of the first to pit in the final fuel window. That stop was under 7 seconds because he had run just half a stint and it took less time to fill the tank. When the stops cycled out, he was 17th.
Then drivers started making mistakes and either crashed into the barriers or each other. Meira advanced into ninth by lap 74 when Alex Tagliani and Tomas Sheckter brought out the sixth and final full course yellow.
On the lap 76 restart, Meira made a run on Simona DeSilvestro but the cars bottled up approaching Turn 3 forcing Meira to get hard on the brakes. He slid into DeSilvestro who stopped him from sliding off track. Unfortunately, Meira flat-spotted his tires in the incident and he had to nurse the car home with 10 laps to go. He lost a position to Wilson who was charging back through the field. Wilson had spun five laps earlier after being passed on a lap 72 restart by Will Power, who went on to win his fourth race of the year. Dan Wheldon nipped Meira with two laps to go to take away what would have been Meira's fifth top-10 finish of the season.
"Crazy race!" Meira exclaimed afterwards, adding, "Considering where we started, we got this finish by being smart. The ABC Supply Team did a very good strategy--couldn't be better. The pit stops were good and the car was picking up lap by lap but the incident with Simona killed my front tires. We were faster than the cars around me but on the restart, I got a good run off two and tried to make a move but it was hectic under braking to Turn 3 and everyone started to brake early. She braked early and I had nowhere to go so I had to lock it up and hope for the best. We crashed there but got away lucky because she stopped me from going straight off. But it killed my front tires and that's how we lost our top-10 position in the last couple laps. But the team did a very good job on the pit stops and strategy."
The ABC Supply Racing transporter will head straight to Edmonton, Canada from Toronto to prepare for next weekend's Honda Indy Edmonton.