Indy 500: AJ Foyt Racing race preview

Vitor Meira: ABC Supply No. 14 Dallara/Honda/Firestone Q & A with Vitor Meira on the Indy 500 What are your expectations for race? "I expect it to be better than qualifying! Going through the week we didn't think we emphasized race setup ...

Vitor Meira: ABC Supply No. 14 Dallara/Honda/Firestone

Q & A with Vitor Meira on the Indy 500

What are your expectations for race?

"I expect it to be better than qualifying! Going through the week we didn't think we emphasized race setup enough but in the two or three days we did it, we did a lot of race setup and I think that hurt us a little bit on qualifying-- nevertheless we are in. In talking with other drivers, not many people focused on the race. Seldom did you see a lot of people doing full tank runs and we did do full tank runs and race simulations, so with that, I feel confident for the race. The ABC Supply car is good; we still have to try a couple things on Carb day with the heat but I'm confident."

How does your accident last year affect you going into the race? Or does it?

"If it affects anything, it is before, you think about it. But when you're in the car, it's the last thing that comes to mind. I remember it when I'm out of the car, when I talk about it, but it doesn't give me any bad memories. It was a bad situation but it doesn't bring me any bad memories. I'm sure it's not going to be a problem."

What are the things you look for on Carb day?

"We have to make sure all the systems work. We changed engines for the race, replaced a bunch of things and so we do a leak check, check the pit speed limiter and so on and so forth. We just make sure everything works like it should. The second thing about Carb Day is that is when the track conditions are going to be the closest to the race that we've had all month--or at least the start of the race so you have a good gauge there on how the race is going to start. We're feeling good."

What are the challenges you will face starting 30th?

"I never started that far back--ever! But having said that, even if I'm super careful and lose three positions--well I don't have much to lose-- but we have a lot to gain. I want to get through the first 15 laps or so, making sure everybody gets through. The potential of our getting in trouble on the race start is very big so the risk is big and the reward can be big but it's just short term. It's a short term reward for a big risk. So I'm going to try to get through it. We have a good car and a good crew so we're going to have good pit stops, and I want to get through it and make sure we have a good race. The race won't be decided anywhere close to the start so once we go through the first part of the race--obviously I have to be aggressive and start picking off cars because I don't want to get lapped and the leaders are going to come in a hurry-- but I don't want to throw it away on the first lap. We've had a tough start to the 500 already this year and I don't want to finish it with a tough day in the race. I want to end on a high note but in order to make that happen I have to be smart about it."

How does it affect your approach with all of the rookies in this race?

"Before last year, not very much! But this year it will because my accident last year was with a rookie--not because he was a rookie--it just happened. But you have to be careful with everybody and maybe a bit more careful with some rookies, not all of them. I'm going to treat each car as a position to be gained and if it's a rookie, I'll make sure I take some extra precautions with them."

Do you remember your rookie year? What surprised you about the race?

"Just how big the 500 is. While I was in the race car, every start is not that much different [from other races]. It is very turbulent, there's a lot of things flying around when you're back there, a lot of fuel fumes. The first year we ran mostly methanol so in the first laps, my eyes were tearing because there was so much methanol, but then it gets better. We don't have methanol anymore but I'm sure it's going to be pretty dirty back there and we're going to have to be careful."

Tony Kanaan is back there with you--have you talked strategy?

"No not really. We're going to have the same take on things--we're going to have to be aggressive on situations that we at least know the outcome. Situations that we might not know the outcome, we have to be careful a little bit. He has a good car, I have a good car and we both know--I think he finished second here also--you have to be there at the end. In this race I never tried to be --maybe it's one of the positive things about my career here in Indianapolis--but I never was really aggressive about things at the beginning. I always thought about everything I was going to do and waited for the last 50 laps. It was worth it. So even with the crash last year, I was told my average finish is 9th --even with the crash. So it has worked so far so there's no reason to change it."

With problems in qualifying, did you get things sorted out in terms of race setup?

"That's what I hope for. I'm not going to say we focused too much on the race. There are a lot of people who were struggling--and struggling somewhat--let's face it, if I was one mile an hour faster than I am right now, we would be starting in seventh. So there's a lot of people within one mile an hour. Sometimes when you say struggling, people think you're really far off but you're just not perfect--and you have to be perfect. The season has proven that, not only at the 500 but at previous races too. If you want to be competitive, you have to be perfect--to get a top-10 or a top-five, you have to be perfect in every aspect of your race or you won't get it. It's just so tough right now with all the competition."

Is this the most competitive that you've seen the series?

This is the most competitive I've seen this series by far and it's not only me--if you ask any driver, any team owner, anybody who is involved with it--they say it's the most competitive. A weak team today would be a mid to good team four years ago. A strong team four years ago might not be that strong today. So it's tough which is good, it's proven that the IRL has been doing a good job having everybody up to speed and giving opportunities to everybody."

How does your accident last year affect you going into the race? Or does it?

"If it affects anything, it is before, you think about it. But when you're in the car, it's the last thing that comes to mind. I remember it when I'm out of the car, when I talk about it, but it doesn't give me any bad memories. It was a bad situation but it doesn't bring me any bad memories. I'm sure it's not going to be a problem."

-source: ajfr

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Tony Kanaan , Vitor Meira