Indy Racing League An Interview with Arie Luyendyk Jr. & Vitor Meira Part 2 of 2 VITOR MEIRA: Yeah, that was. At first, I only had a two-race deal, Indianapolis, and Texas, and then going to Richmond with a second-place was just amazing, and...
Indy Racing League
An Interview with Arie Luyendyk Jr. & Vitor Meira
Part 2 of 2
VITOR MEIRA: Yeah, that was. At first, I only had a two-race deal, Indianapolis, and Texas, and then going to Richmond with a second-place was just amazing, and I'm just thrilled to be with those guys here.
Q: You've had success and really made the most of some limited opportunities. You came into the IndyCar Series in 2002, debuted in the final four races and recorded three top-10 finishes, then you came back in 2003, missed the first couple of races and then ran 10 races. And then, you were back looking for a job this off-season. What was that like for you, looking for that job and then seeing the season start and being without a ride?
VITOR MEIRA: Yeah, it's always tough. It's always tough coming to a new team. Well, when you get to the top, and you want to be there. You want to stay there, and the IRL, for me, it's the top of everything. I really wanted to be here. I thought I did a good job on the two previous years, but, well, a lot of good happened with things in 2003. I stayed without a ride, but as you said, I missed the first two races, and then, I couldn't have been luckier. I was just walking around the Phoenix paddock, and all of the sudden, (Rahal Letterman Racing's) Scott Roembke gave me the opportunity to go to Japan and Indianapolis. Again, I can't thank those guys enough. It's kind of tough staying without a job. Actually, it's more than a job. It's one thing that you love to do, so it's been tougher.
Q: You've demonstrated such great success so far this year, but still your situation is day-to-day depending on the recovery of Kenny Brack. How do you handle that uncertainty going forward?
VITOR MEIRA: Well, actually, it's not the best thing in the world, for sure, but I mean, I couldn't be in a better place with those guys here. They do everything amazingly and super professional, and I actually just think day-by-day. That's how I go, and it's been working. I work today, and tomorrow, if everything goes good again, I'm going to work again. So I'm not really worried about tomorrow, because if I do, it's going to be really tough. You start to worry tomorrow about what's going to happen, about what's not going to happen. So I really worry about today, and those guys, they gave me the opportunity today, and I will stick with it and do the best I can to win every race.
Q: I know at one point the team had put three cars out on the grid. With your success, has there been any talk of adding a third car that you know of?
VITOR MEIRA: Well, I don't know. I don't know any of these business decisions and everything. They did three cars which was Roger (Yasukawa), Buddy Rice and me at Indianapolis. After Indianapolis, it was just me and Buddy. They kind of did an expansion of the sponsorship that was only during Indianapolis. They extended it, so I had the opportunity to go to Texas and also now Richmond, and to be honest, I don't know, that's one question that Mr. Scott Roembke and Mr. Bobby Rahal would for sure answer much better than I could.
Q: You've turned in three consecutive top-10 finishes now, has that surprised you at all?
VITOR MEIRA: Well, it's surprised me in a way how good the car is. I mean, I do drive not a lot of cars, but I drove quite a few cars in the IRL, and how quick the engineers here and all of the staff, everybody here, how quick they come up with the right setup and the right decisions without any hassle, that's why it kind of surprised me. The results, it's only the fruit of their work and my work and how good the team works. I think that's where the results come from. But having a second-place on the fourth race I did for them, it kind of surprised me a little, but again, surprised me the way how good everything is here.
Q: I understand that the team may be making an announcement in the future here at any time now. The past couple of races, have you felt like you were auditioning for a job of any kind or just driving?
VITOR MEIRA: I was again just driving. It's what I do. It's the only thing I know how to do. So I was driving. I was hired to do that, and that's what I was trying to do, my best. The rest is a business decision. All of the other decisions, I'm not a big part of that. I'm hired to drive, and I will do the best I can here for those guys. The other decisions, I don't know. Mr. Scott Roembke, he can answer much better.
Q: Other than Rahal Letterman Racing, has anybody else been contacting you about possible driving for them?
VITOR MEIRA: Yeah, well, that's our hope. That's what everybody is working for is to expand that throughout rest of the year. Bobby Rahal and Scott Roembke are all working on it. They are really happy with all of the results we have and with all on the track and also out of the track, business-wise. I don't see any reason not to continue. But again, it's a decision, it's a sponsorship, it's a big company on both sides, and I can only pray and hope that they make these decisions to continue the rest of the year.
Q: When I've been listening to you talk about the patience that you have regarding this ride and looking for a ride, I begin to understand a little bit more why you're able to do what you did at Texas because it seemed you used that same patience on the racetrack.
VITOR MEIRA: Thank you very much. Well, I think the patience comes from wanting so bad, maybe. I will always do the maximum for my effort and the maximum of everything to get a good ride and to stay racing and competitive. And I think a little bit comes from it because that's what I know how to do and what I have been doing since I was 10 years old. So, you learn a little bit from years and years in racing, and I will keep doing the same thing. I will always do that because that's what I love to do.
Q: Looking at Kansas City, talk about that for a moment.
VITOR MEIRA: Kansas City, last year, we had a good car there, which I was on another team. We had a good car, but we unfortunately didn't finish the race because of mechanical problems. It's a race pretty much like Texas, Chicago and a little bit like Homestead. We will have a good power there as everybody saw, it depends -- (Honda) never stops pushing; and every day, every week, every race, we have some more horsepower, some new tricks that they come up with. Again, it's the race like Texas or Chicago where the engine is really important. So, we are going to be good. The team is good. The team just won the (Indianapolis) 500 with Buddy Rice. I just came in second. The momentum is building. I like this one-and-a-half-mile track. I think it's only a matter of putting it all together, all of the kind of little pieces together to make it happen.
Q: Considering what you have been able to do, and considering the confidence that you have in this race car, and the fact that with the lesser car, you did pretty well at Kansas City last year, something tells me you've got to be real confident that you'll be standing there at the victory podium at the end of the race.
VITOR MEIRA: Yeah, actually, I'm confident every race because it's no reason not to be with all of this structure around me. It's amazing the job those guys do, and also, a victory, it's something that you're always looking for, but it's really difficult to make it happen. A victory, you work, work, work, and then it comes to you. Because they find the good players, we are doing our best every day to obtain that. But the victory is something that comes with the work, and if it's going to come this weekend, maybe next weekend or later, I don't know. But as long as we keep working the way we are working, we do our best and make the best decisions, it's going to come sooner or later.
Q: Again, the word "patience."
VITOR MEIRA: Exactly. This is where patience comes in. With only three races, for example, we are fourteenth in the championship, and there's where patience comes in. There's still a lot of races to go on this championship, and you never know what can happen. Just stay on the track, keep pushing and something good happens.
Q: Several races this year, especially the last one, you haven't qualified well. Is that part of your style or what does that say about your driving ability?
VITOR MEIRA: Well, we always had a good car, and even in traffic or qualifying -- but for some reason, which I am still about to find out, sometimes we don't show it. For example, at Texas, I was the first one to go out to qualifying after the truck series warm-up. So I kind of took a run around the track that was very kind of different, and then it kind of didn't help me much, and that's why we started 13th there, and that wasn't as good a qualifying as we thought it would. And the rest of the races, honestly, I think they thought we were always going to be qualifying a little bit better than they did. And again, I always focus more on the racing than qualifying. That doesn't mean that I don't focus on qualifying. I always focus the max I can on both of them, but again, racing is the important thing. Qualifying, it's important, the further you are, the more forward you are, you can be easier that you can avoid a lot of eventual problems that happens on the start of the race. So, I don't know, we've been working as hard in racing and qualifying, but so far for me, now, racing has been a bit stronger car, which is good, but we still have to have a little bit, the qualifying part of it, because if you start like -- the more ahead you start, the better it is.
Q: Great job last Saturday. You've driven many different types of cars over the last couple of years. Have you had to change how you adapt to a racing car when you get into a different type of package?
VITOR MEIRA: Well, for sure, it's a change, but it's not a whole lot different. The cars give different feedback, and with feedback, you have to learn a lot of tricks that they have. It's not the best situation. But again, it's all speed, and speed doesn't change. Racing is just racing, and if you have the speed, you have the speed. So, it's a matter of putting everything together and going for it. It does change, driving different cars and different engines and everything, but the bottom line is, it's always speed and time. So you want to -- it is tough, but not as -- there's not a whole lot different than driving in another car.
MODERATOR: Thanks everyone for joining us today on the IRL's weekly teleconference.