IRL: Indy 500: Panoz race report

Meira 2nd, Patrick 4th to lead Panoz drivers in Indianapolis 500 INDIANAPOLIS, May 29, 2005 - Vitor Meira came oh, so close to stealing the 89th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race on the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval, hounding eventual...

Meira 2nd, Patrick 4th to lead Panoz drivers in Indianapolis 500

INDIANAPOLIS, May 29, 2005 - Vitor Meira came oh, so close to stealing the 89th Indianapolis 500 Mile Race on the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval, hounding eventual winner Dan Wheldon over the final laps before caution flew on the 199th of 200 tours, putting the Brazilian's hopes for the win at bay and forcing Meira to settle for second in his #17 Menards/Johns Manville Panoz/Honda/Firestone machine.

While Meira had difficulty gaining grip on the dirty track early in the race, "We knew our car was going to get better as the race went on and that is exactly what happened today." Passing teammate Danica Patrick after the penultimate yellow as the rookie tried to cope with her depleted methanol supply, Meira gained second place a lap before caution flew.

Driving with a bleeding right hand after debris struck his glove, Meira stated his car was "so good today. My crew really helped me, too. Every time I came in the pits I gained between one and three spots. I'm so proud to be a member of this Rahal Letterman Racing team."

Meira's rookie teammate Patrick became the first woman to lead the Indianapolis 500 and led three times for a total of 19 laps in her #16 Argent Mortgage/Pioneer Panoz/Honda, keeping the massive crowd on their feet applauding her capabilities behind the wheel on this warm and sunny Sunday.

Despite stalling on her first pit stop and spinning on a restart, Patrick vaulted to fourth place at the close. "We really had to dial back the fuel to make it to the end so I was just trying to hang on as long as possible. I am so pleased with our performance today and actually all month. This is," Patrick reminded, "only my fifth IndyCar Series race."

Scott Sharp finished seventh in the #8 Delphi Fernandez Panoz/Honda and exulted, "Our Panoz was just tremendous. Our result could have been a little better but we'll keep working on it." This was the veteran's best finish in 11 starts.

Rookie Ryan Briscoe had a good run to finish tenth in the #33 Target/Pioneer Panoz/Toyota, a lap behind the leading pack. "My Panoz was just fantastic. After the second set of tires, we adjusted the pressure a little bit and it felt great. My goal was to get in the top 10 and have a clean race; that is what we have always done. I am so happy with the whole crew. They have done a fantastic job all month. I am really happy," he exclaimed.

The Indy Racing League IndyCar Series reconvenes in two weeks time for race #6 of 17 contests, the Bombardier 500K on the 1.5-mile high banks of Texas Motor Speedway.

-panoz/emt-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Scott Sharp , Dan Wheldon , Ryan Briscoe , Danica Patrick , Vitor Meira