IPS: IRL: Nashville: Panther Racing race report

Meira Soldiers to Tenth; Simmons Crashes Matsuura for Third Time Mutoh Finishes Sixth in Sunbelt Rentals 100 NASHVILLE, Ten. (July 14, 2007) -- In what was a difficult day for everybody in the IndyCar Series Sunday at Nashville...

Meira Soldiers to Tenth; Simmons Crashes Matsuura for Third Time

Mutoh Finishes Sixth in Sunbelt Rentals 100

NASHVILLE, Ten. (July 14, 2007) -- In what was a difficult day for everybody in the IndyCar Series Sunday at Nashville Superspeedway in the rain-delayed Firestone Indy 200, where a green racetrack made for an interesting day of Indy-car racing.

Delphi Panther driver Vitor Meira made a tough climb into tenth position, while Super Aguri Panther driver Kosuke Matsuura finished 16th after crashing to avoid rival Jeff Simmons -- the third time this season the No. 55 has crashed because of the Rahal Letterman Racing driver.

Meira started in 14th position but quickly jumped past Vision Racing drivers Ed Carpenter and A.J. Foyt IV at the start, the same time Matsuura was able to maneuver past three cars -- Darren Manning, Sarah Fisher and Buddy Rice -- from 18th to the 15th position.

Matsuura was forced to start at the back of the field because of non-compliance of post-qualifying technical inspection.

Vitor had moved into 11th for his first pit stop on Lap 38, and the Delphi Panther crew was able to put the No. 4 into the Top Ten, where he remained until 40 laps later.

While chasing Simmons for ninth, both cars were held up by the lapped car of Fisher, who caused a bottleneck of cars that included Meira, Simmons, Tomas Scheckter and Manning. The mess caused Vitor to slap the outside wall exiting turn four and Scheckter -- also trying to avoid the calamity -- made contact with Vitor on front straight, turning the No. 4 sideways just before the start finish line.

Meira avoided the crash, but lost two positions in the process -- both of which he would get back before the conclusion of the 200-lap event.

After his impressive start, Kosuke was battling with his handling on Lap 189 when Simmons was entering pit lane and suddenly slipped up the racetrack in the middle of turns three and four and into the groove of the 1.33-mile concrete oval. To avoid massive contact with the No. 17 car, Matsuura went high and made contact with the outside wall in turn four.

The accident was the third this season caused by Simmons, who spun in front of Matsuura in the season opener in Homestead -- causing the No. 55 to crash -- and then the following weekend at St. Petersburg, Simmons ran into Kosuke's right-rear on the first lap of the race. Simmons came down to the Panasonic pit box to apologize to the Panther crew at the conclusion of the race today.

The IndyCar Series will travel to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course next weekend for its debut event at one of the country's best road courses. The Honda 200 at Mid-Ohio will be broadcast live on ABC at 1:30 p.m. (EDT) with additional coverage provided by the IMS Radio Network and XM Satellite Radio channels 144 and 145.

Mutoh Sixth in Sunbelt Rentals 100 Indy Pro Series Race

Super Aguri Panther Indy Pro Series driver Hideki Mutoh finished sixth Saturday in the Sunbelt Rentals 100 race, where the Japanese driver battled with a loose car during a majority of the event.

Hideki started fourth and lost one spot to Jamie Camara at the start while fighting the loose condition. Mutoh remained in fifth position for most of the race until a hard-charging Logan Gomez passed him late in the event.

This was Hideki's 10th Top Ten finish in 11 starts this season, and he was able to gain valuable points on championship leader Alex Lloyd, who fell to 11th place in the race after a broken wing. Mutoh remains in second place in the championship standings, and now trails Lloyd by 132 points.

Vitor Meira:

"Really, really tough day in the Delphi car. The crew did everything they could to help me out, but we just didn't have the strength to get it done today. We dodged a bullet with the incident with (Tomas) Scheckter in the middle of the race when a lapped car slowed us up. This isn't the day we wanted but we made the best of what we had. I think a top ten, considering how we struggled, is a good effort for us. The Panther pit crew was really good today, and we were just able to get by Scheckter at the end before the last yellow came out. We were strong at Watkins Glen, so we're excited about Mid Ohio."

Kosuke Matsuura:

"I may have put too much downforce on the Panasonic car today. My time hasn't been good here so I knew I will be struggling in the race. I am very disappointed that I didn't get to finish the race today. The team did a good job during the pit stop and would like to thank them for supporting me in very hot and tough condition."

Hideki Mutoh:

"It was a very tough race. I didn't have any grip in front and back, and also the car was very loose. It got better after 10 or 11 laps but it was just so hard to control the car. I just did my best not to crash into the wall and also be very careful going into turns. It was a great experience learning the concrete course. I am looking forward to the next race and do better."

-credit: pr

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About this article
Series IndyCar , Indy Lights
Drivers Tomas Scheckter , Darren Manning , Sarah Fisher , A.J. Foyt IV , Buddy Rice , Kosuke Matsuura , Jeff Simmons , Alex Lloyd , Logan Gomez , Hideki Mutoh , Jamie Camara , Ed Carpenter , Vitor Meira
Teams Panther Racing