The Gist: Meira hits 100; Watt joins KV

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By Dave Lewandowski

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Over eggs and toast on a soggy morning (as opposed to runny eggs and soggy toast) at Barber Motorsports Park, Vitor Meira gave a “how about that?” response to the subject of his longevity in the IZOD IndyCar Series.

Meira, who made his series debut in 2002 at Kentucky Speedway (finished 15th), will make his 100th start this weekend in the inaugural Indy Grand Prix of Alabama Presented by Legacy Credit Union.

“A hundred starts is proof that I’ve been doing a good job because I never had to pay to drive, so I always had to prove that I could do the job that people were expecting,” said Meira, who is in his second season driving the No. 14 ABC Supply car for A.J. Foyt Racing. “I think that (100 starts) is one way to prove that and to feel good about it. There is a lot to be done still. I have not done nearly everything that I want to do so I’m still pushing with the same will I had at my first race.”

Meira has 29 top-five and 58 top-10 finishes – including being the runner-up in eight races – with four teams. He jumped 13 positions to finish third in the season opener in Brazil on March 14 and led 12 laps at St. Petersburg on March 29 (his first laps led since Kentucky in ’08) before finishing 15th.

Obviously, Meira – who will tie Buddy Lazier with 100 starts — has seen a lot in the sport over the years.

“IndyCar has evolved a lot,” he said. “When I joined, we did not have a lot of the teams we have nowadays. I saw IndyCar going from only ovals — mostly high-speed ovals — to short ovals then to a couple road courses per year to now where we have 50 percent road courses and 50 percent ovals. I’ve seen Dallaras, G-Forces, Chevys, Hondas and it’s good to see and have this experience. It shows that IRL is doing a good job evolving it because there are only better teams and things are getting more and more competitive every year.

“To be part of it is cool too and to share the track with all the other drivers that have so much experience, too.”

Watt joins KV Racing Technology

Longtime Indy car engineer Iain Watt has joined KV Racing Technology and will work with Mario Moraes and the No. 32 crew this weekend. He had most recently been crew chief for Robby Gordon’s NASCAR Sprint Cup team.

“I’m looking forward to working with a new team and driver, though I’ve known (team co-owner) Jimmy (Vasser) for years,” Watt said. “I liked what I saw of the team when I was at St. Petersburg, and it’s a good opportunity to work with old friends again.

“The cars I’ve been working with the last few years are so different than these. I can see the evolution of changes, but I don’t expect anything too surprising. An open-wheel car is an open-wheel car.”

Moraes, 21, who didn’t participate in the Open Test at Barber Motorsports Park in February, last week had minor surgery in Brazil to remove a cyst from his ear canal.

“I needed to take last weekend to chill a little bit, but I’m OK,” Moraes said. “I could work a little in the gym the past few days and feel ready for the weekend.”

Alternate tire new to the drivers

The primary (black sidewall) tires are the same used at the Barber Motorsports Park Open Test in February, and are the same primary spec as Mid-Ohio last season. The alternate (red sidewall) tires are new for 2010. The Firehawk alternates are identical in body construction to the primaries but contain a softer tread compound that provides more grip and faster lap times, yet trades off compound durability in exchange for those shorter-term advantages.

“While all of the teams have experience here with the primary spec, no one has yet used the alternate specification we are bringing to this event,” Firestone Racing executive director Al Speyer said. “Look for the red-sidewall Firestone Firehawk race tires to add a variable that will hopefully lead to more passing on the track.”

Notable

Drivers will have 20 pushes of the Honda overtake assist button for 15 seconds each during the 90-lap race. There is a 10-second recharge period between pushes. … Charter Communications will be the primary sponsor this weekend of the No.22 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing car driven by Justin Wilson. … Roll Coater will be the primary sponsor of the No. 24 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing car driven by Mike Conway. He has relocated his residence to Miami. … Suave will be the primary sponsor of the No. 10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing car driven by Dario Franchitti this weekend.

source http://www.indycar.com/

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