LONG BEACH, CA April 18, 2010--Vitor Meira drove the ABC Supply car to an 11th place finish in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Sunday afternoon under perfect racing conditions in the southern California port city. Meira, who started 14th for...
LONG BEACH, CA April 18, 2010--Vitor Meira drove the ABC Supply car to an 11th place finish in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Sunday afternoon under perfect racing conditions in the southern California port city.
Meira, who started 14th for his best start of the year to date, drove a hard race as the pace was fast and nearly caution-free. There was one five-lap caution period triggered by a crash between Graham Rahal and Mario Romancini on lap 59 of the 85-lap race. That caution played into the hands of two drivers who finished ahead of Meira because they did not run out of fuel until the cool down lap after taking the checkered: Justin Wilson finished second and Dan Wheldon finished ninth.
"I thought it was a fair result for ABC Supply and AJ Foyt Racing," Meira said afterwards. "As competitive as the IndyCar Series is and having an almost top-10, it was a fair result for the team. Nobody dropped out and it was green almost all the way so this result, there was nothing artificial about it, like a good strategy or getting luck on situations, this is a true result."
Meira's pit stops were flawless as he picked up a position on both stops. However, the lone yellow worked against him as he had to slow on course which allowed Mike Conway to slip out of the pits ahead of him into the tenth position.
After the race on the cool down lap, Meira radioed in, "Good stops guys! Thank you." It is a sentiment which team owner A.J. Foyt seconded.
Meira started the race on the red-rimmed alternate Firestone tires, as did 22 of the 25-car field. He ran them without incident until his first pit stop on lap 27 when the team switched him to the black primary tires. They slapped on another set of primaries on the second stop 30 laps later.
Meira said the race was the most physically demanding of the season.
"It was a pretty hard race," he said. "Racing Long Beach, as rubbered as the track was, the steering was pretty heavy and there were not very many yellows--actually there was one yellow, period. So it was a very tough race. We had maybe four laps of yellow and the rest all green and not easy green, it was hard green with pressure everywhere. . That's why I say it was a true and fair result for us, nothing artificial about it."
Meira did have a little Race Day fortune. After the morning warm-up the team discovered that the fuel pump had frozen, triggered when the car ran out of fuel in the final minutes of practice. The discovery was made when they attempted to restart it around 10:30 am. Diagnosing the problem quickly with the Honda engineers, the team had to change the fuel pump which required pulling the engine. They were able to do so in about 90 minutes which was fortunate because it was a tight schedule with the race set to start at 1:15pm. The car made it to the grid with time to spare.
Ryan Hunter-Reay snapped Team Penske's win streak by posting his second victory from his outside pole position. Hunter-Reay swept past Will Power when the pole winner car got stuck in first gear causing him to slow and lose the lead. Hunter-Reay posted the first win for Andretti Autosport. He was followed across the line by Justin Wilson, Power, Scott Dixon and teammate Tony Kanaan.
Meira's 11th place finish saw him slip to 11th in the point standings as ninth place finisher Wheldon advanced past him into 10th by a margin of two points.
The IZOD IndyCar Series resumes action in two weeks at Kansas Speedway.