IndyCar Drivers refuse to give up on streets of Toronto
There was a moment during the Honda Indy Toronto, where Vitor Meira thought "Game over."
The 85 rough and tumble laps on the 1.755-mile, 11-turn street circuit knocked out six of the 26 starters via contact, while a dozen others were able to make quick repairs and rejoin the fray. Meira, whose No. 14 ABC Supply car for A.J. Foyt Racing incurred a few scars from a Lap 47 shunt while running ninth, was among the handful of drivers who actually benefitted.
"It was a big wreck but that's where we really got lucky," said Meira, who started 14th and finished a season-best fifth. "We had to change the nose, but when everything was OK I got hopeful again. That's how it is; you never give up. The day you give up, you don't deserve to be here."
Following a Lap 80 restart, Meira overtook Sebastien Bourdais for sixth and inherited fifth place when the cars of Graham Rahal and Ryan Hunter-Reay made contact while battling for third (Rahal spinning out). He held off Bourdais, who also posted a season-high finish, by three-tenths of a second at the start-finish line.
"It was a very tough race but it was one that rewarded experience," Meira said. "It was plenty aggressive out there. I left a little on the table because I knew people would be crashing right and left."
Ryan Hunter-Reay, whose No. 28 Team DHL/Circle K/Sun Drop Citrus Soda car received front wing damage on Lap 44 but came away unscathed from the bump with Rahal, recorded his first podium finish of the season. Andretti Autosport teammate Marco Andretti, who won at Iowa Speedway two weeks earlier, charged from 20th to finish fourth.
Rookie JR Hildebrand posted a season-high eighth on a road/street course in the No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing car, while E.J. Viso had to make two unscheduled pit stops because of tire punctures but soldiered on to ninth place in the No. 59 PDVSA KV Racing Technology-Lotus car.
"I think I was literally inches away from every major crash," said Hildebrand, who has completed all 415 laps on road/street courses. "My mentality very quickly, once we started getting the yellows, was that the guys in front of me were going to crash and if I can just avoid getting passed that I was going to be good. I ended up getting passed a few times, but I gained a multitude of positions by being able to avoid big accidents. We stayed out of trouble and got what the car was giving us."