Vitor Meira's ebullience was clear during a phone conversation (partly because of the birth of his daughter Juliana on Easter Sunday morning) to discuss the Itaipava São Paulo Indy 300 presented by Nestle.
The third-year A.J. Foyt Racing driver secured a podium finish in the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series season opener and is bolstered by two top-10 finishes in three events heading into the May 1 race on the streets of São Paulo, Brazil.
"It was a very important race because not only was it the first race of the season, but it was the first race of IndyCars in Brazil and my first race after the crash at Indianapolis," said Meira, who gained 13 positions to finish third in the No. 14 ABC Supply car. "There were a bunch of things to be put in place in that race, and to come out with a very positive result was almost a dream. I couldn't choose a better place or better time to have things going my way. It was a wonderful weekend and one I'll never forget."
And it's one he'd like to repeat. Meira was the top-finishing Brazilian (he's from Brasilia), and five natives of Brazil are among the 26 drivers entered this weekend. Meira has finished eighth, ninth and 12th, making gains in each race. He's started 13th twice, missing out on advancing to Segment 2 of qualifications by 0.0091 of a second at St. Petersburg and 0.1937 of a second at Long Beach (both street courses).
"Our priority was to improve on road and street courses and we have done that," said Meira, who put in three days of testing at Barber Motorsports Park before the season. "We are a solid top-10 car most of the places we go; on street courses we are a little better still than road courses.
"I'm excited with the way the season has started in a championship that is more competitive than last year. To be 10th in the championship after three solid races is definitely improvement. Now we have to improve more and get points on the oval races."
Since returning to Brasilia following the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, Meira has felt the energy of the country surrounding the second IZOD IndyCar Series race.
"The people saw what kind of show we put on last year and they're really excited," he reported. "The tickets are almost sold out. It's growing even more. It's interesting for the people of São Paulo to know that cars are racing on the same streets they travel every day. Every other form of racing (in Brazil) is on a racetrack, and to be on the streets is a plus for INDYCAR."
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