Archive for Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Drivers push ethanol at Basehor station

July 5, 2006

On Thursday, Indy racer Jeff Simmons couldn't help but wish it were Sunday.

Not only was his racecar being filled with gas by competitor Vitor Meira at the Casey's General Store in Basehor, but the job of refueler also meant Meira was not ahead of him in a race.

"I don't think he's interested in the job, unfortunately," a smiling Simmons said.

Indeed, the Brazilian-born Meira admitted Thursday that Simmons would get no such favors at last weekend's Kansas Lottery 300 at the Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan.

His pit crew duties for Simmons would only last one day.

"He would not like me as a refueler. I'm probably not strong enough," Meira said with a laugh. "He would not like it. That's definitely out of the question."

The two were part of a news conference Thursday highlighting the benefits of ethanol fuel.

From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., the 10 percent ethanol gasoline was marked down to $2.20 per gallon at the Casey's station. More than 50 cars lined up at the start for the discount, with the earliest arriving 90 minutes before the pumps opened.

Ethanol -- which is made from a variety of plants including corn -- is now being used in all of the Indy Racing League's cars. The IRL is using a 10 percent ethanol-enriched fuel this year and switching to 100 percent fuel-grade ethanol in 2007.

The substance -- which is renewable and has also been found to be less of an air pollutant than methanol-based gasoline -- is nothing new for Meira. The go-carts he raced as a child in Brazil were run by ethanol in 1989.

Simmons, meanwhile, races in the No. 17 Team Ethanol car.

  • Tony Kanaan, who won last year's Argent Mortgage Indy 300 at Kansas Speedway, was both a driver and a spectator Saturday.

That's because his home country of Brazil faced France in the World Cup on the same day as qualifying for this year's Kansas Lottery Indy 300.

"Trust me, I'll hop out of my car after qualifying," Kanaan said Thursday. "That's where I'm going -- straight to my bus. The game starts at 2 o'clock. I'll be there watching."

Unfortunately for Kanaan and his home country, it wasn't a good day for soccer. France defeated Brazil, 1-0. Kanaan finished fifth in the IRL race Sunday.

  • Meira was looking to finally win at Kansas after coming so close in his previous two appearances, but again he finished just shy of the win. Meira finished in third behind Sam Hornish Jr. and Dan Wheldon.

In 2004, he finished second, losing by .0051 seconds to then-Rahal Letterman teammate Buddy Rice.

Last year he finished third, .0242 seconds behind Kanaan.

In all, Meira has missed two victories by a combined three feet.

"It's the longest yard ever," Meira said, "but that's what we all work for."

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