Teamwork. That's what it took for hard charger Vitor Meira and the ABC Supply team to post their second best finish of the season in the final race of the IZOD IndyCar Series at Homestead-Miami Speedway Saturday night. From the pit strategy to...
Teamwork. That's what it took for hard charger Vitor Meira and the ABC Supply team to post their second best finish of the season in the final race of the IZOD IndyCar Series at Homestead-Miami Speedway Saturday night.
From the pit strategy to the execution in the pits to Meira's daring drive on the track, Meira and his ABC Supply team turned a disappointing qualifying run into a stirring race performance. Starting 21st, Meira finished sixth in the Cafes do Brasil Indy 300 and moved up in the final IZOD IndyCar standings to finish 12th overall.
"It's nice to finish the year on an upbeat note for ABC Supply and AJ Foyt Racing and myself," said Meira afterwards. "The mechanics did an awesome job in the pits. I think that was a race we did well as a team. Everything was right, except the last set of tires were a little on the iffy side. We lost a bunch there on the last stint so I'm glad it was the last and the shortest. Everybody did a great job--it's good to have this feeling for the off season."
It was the best finish for the Foyt team at Homestead-Miami Speedway since 2001 when they finished third and for Meira since 2007 when he finished fourth. In terms of points, it's the best finish for the Foyt team since finishing ninth in 2002 with another Brazilian Airton Dare.
At the outset of the race, Meira began moving up through the field picking off cars every several laps. When the first yellow came out on lap 36, he'd advanced eight spots and was in 13th. During the next stint, he complained that the car was loose in turns 1 and 2 and was pushing in turns 3 and 4. After dipping down to 16th, he climbed back to 13th when he pitted on lap 95. The crew serviced him in 7.08 seconds.
By lap 115, he moved into the top 10. Meira radioed in, "This set of tires is much better so whatever we did, keep it." Team owner A.J. Foyt answered back, "We didn't do anything. Firestone gave us a good set of tires."
The yellow came out again on lap 135 when points leader Will Power brushed the wall which dashed his championship hopes. He finished 25th with a damaged suspension.
On lap 137, Meira came into the pits in ninth spot and came out in seventh. While the field was still under caution, the team decided to pit for a splash of fuel on lap 146.
Unfortunately, on that final stint, the tires on the No. 14 were not the same as the previous set and Meira dropped back to ninth. However, when a caution came out for debris on lap 166, Meira picked up four spots when the leaders pitted for a splash of fuel. Because the ABC Supply team had pitted Meira earlier, he had enough fuel to go the distance. He gained track position over those who waited to pit later which included pole winner Dario Franchitti.
Another yellow on lap 176 paid off for those who had gambled by not pitting at all--Scott Dixon and Helio Castroneves. Dixon won the race over Danica Patrick, Tony Kanaan, Ryan Briscoe and Castroneves.
Had the finaI 34 laps remained green, Meira would have finished third as only runner-up Danica Patrick and third place Tony Kanaan were on his same fuel strategy and had the fuel to go the distance.
Franchitti, who had led 128 laps and dominated the race until he pitted for his splash of fuel on lap 168, finished eighth. He lost the race but won the IZOD IndyCar Series championship by not gambling. Power trailed Franchitti by just five points. Rounding out the top 12 in the Series were: Dixon, Castroneves, Ryan Briscoe, Kanaan, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti, Dan Wheldon, Patrick, Justin Wilson and Meira.
The average speed for the 200-lap race was 158.905 for winner Dixon while Meira posted a 158.735 mph average.