Vitor Meira and Ana Beatriz teleconference Richmond, Nashville races moved to ESPN One point separates leaders in Firestone Indy Lights
Vitor Meira and Ana Beatriz teleconference: IndyCar Series driver Vitor Meira and Firestone Indy Lights driver Ana Beatriz were guests on yesterday’s Indy Racing League teleconference. Background on Vitor Meira: Vitor Meira is in his sixth full season in the IndyCar Series, driving for Panther Racing. · Age: 31 (Birthday is March 27, 1977) · Career Starts / 2008: 82 / 6 · Career Victories/2008: 0 · Career Top-Five Finishes/2008: 26 / 1 · Career Top-10 Finishes/2008: 51 / 2 · Career Poles/2008: 2 / 0 · Career Highlights: Finished in top 10 in points three times in the IndyCar Series. Has recorded eight second-place race finishes, including twice at Indianapolis. · 2008 Highlights: Finished second at Indianapolis, leading 12 laps. · Off the Track: Married his girlfriend this spring. Background on Ana Beatriz: Ana Beatriz is a rookie in Firestone Indy Lights, driving for Sam Schmidt Motorsports. · Age: 23 (Birthday is March 18, 1985) · Career Starts: 6 · Career Victories: 0 · Career Top-Five Finishes: 2 · Career Top-10 Finishes: 3 · Career Poles: 0 · Career Highlights: Competed for Team Brazil in A1GP in 2007. Competed in karts, Formula Renault and South American Formula 3. · 2008 Highlights: Ranks eighth in points. Finished third at St. Petersburg 1 and led seven laps at St. Petersburg 2. · They said what...? Listed below are select quotes from today’s teleconference, with the approximate time code from the audio MP3 in parentheses. *** Q. The next stop is Texas. You've done well there personally with a pole in the past and seven top-10 finishes, four top-fives in eight starts there. Panther has five wins at that track. Seems like a pretty good combination to put together. What will it take, do you think, to get to Victory Lane on Saturday night? VITOR MEIRA (10:30): Texas is always kind of a complicated race a little bit. It's a track that is very fast and everybody runs really close. What it's going to take is, first, good pit stops. First, actually a fast car. Second, good pit stops. And, third, putting yourself in the best position possible until the end of the race. It's a race that sometimes you'll get caught up in somebody else's mistakes just because everybody runs so close and so fast. But, those three items are the ones that are going to be vital to win the race in Texas. ***Q. What is it like to actually fly in an IndyCar? Was it at all fun? Dario (Franchitti) did it last year. VITOR MEIRA (17:00): The flying part was actually pretty cool. The landing part was hard. It was actually funny. When we were flying here to Texas, we were joined by Gen. Umbarger from the Indianapolis National Guard. He gave me a set of the pins that he gives the pilots, the wings that the military uses. He gave me one that says I'm approved, now I can fly. ***Q:You mentioned a lack of experience on ovals. What has the learning process been like for you so far? ANA BEATRIZ (2:00): It's hard. After Homestead, I was thinking to myself, ‘Oh, that's pretty good. I think I learned a lot of things.’ Then you go to an oval that is totally different so you have to learn a lot of things again. I think that's it: the lack of experience. Every oval is a different oval. Then I think I just have to put it together. Right now I kind of know a lot of things, but I think I still have a lot of things to learn.
2. Richmond, Nashville races move to ESPN: The IndyCar Series races at Richmond International Raceway and Nashville Superspeedway will be telecast on ESPN instead of ESPN2 as originally scheduled. The SunTrust Indy Challenge is scheduled for 8 p.m. (ET) June 28 at Richmond, and the Firestone Indy 200 is scheduled for 8 p.m. (ET) July 12 at Nashville.
*** 3. One point separates leaders in Firestone Indy Lights: It was a tough race weekend at Milwaukee for Richard Antinucci and Dillon Battistini. They remain 1-2 in the Firestone Indy Lights championship standings through six rounds, but the difference is one point and they have company. Antinucci, who had recorded a victory and three runner-up spots in the first five races, dropped five positions to finish a season-low 16th in the Milwaukee 100 on The Milwaukee Mile on June 1. Battistini advanced six spots but still finished 14th. Eight days earlier, he won the Firestone Freedom 100 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway - his second victory of the season on an oval. J.R. Hildebrand is 15 points back, AFS Racing/Andretti Green Racing teammates Raphael Matos (-31) and Arie Luyendyk Jr. (-50) and Team Moore Racing's Jeff Simmons (-58) are in the hunt heading to Iowa Speedway. Hildebrand, who started 14th, was the biggest mover of the race by finishing fifth. "I wasn't looking forward to starting mid-pack here because it's easy to get caught up in something, but the RLR/Andersen team gave me a great car," he said. "I screwed up in practice and crashed, but they fixed the Allied Building Products car and it was great for the race. To be able to put it into the top 10, let alone the top five, shows that the guys really earned their pay here this weekend."
Matos recorded his best oval finish (third), following Simmons and race winner Bobby Wilson across the line at Milwaukee. "I was happy for the team; they deserve better results than we've had in the past two races," said Matos, who finished 10th in the Firestone Freedom 100 and 19th at Kansas Speedway. "We improved quite a lot from qualifying (seventh). I think the car was quite good in the end. "This place is so difficult in traffic. It's very difficult to pass. Once I was in third, I just wanted to finish and collect points, which is good for the championship. Now we just have to work harder and harder trying to maximize our car to the ovals and then we'll be there in the end fighting for the championship."
*** The 2008 IndyCar Series season continues with the Bombardier Learjet 550k on June 7 at Texas Motor Speedway. The race will be telecast in High Definition at 10 p.m. (EDT) by ESPN2. The race will air live on the IMS Radio Network. A Spanish-language telecast of the race will be carried by ESPNDeportes. The IMS Radio Network broadcast also is carried on XM Satellite Radio and www.indycar.com. The 2008 Firestone Indy Lights season continues with the Jeld-Wen 100 June 21 at Iowa Speedway. The Milwaukee 100 will be telecast at 1 p.m. EDT June 5.