Vitor Meira, Kosuke Matsuura Victims of Iowa Speedway Melee Suspension Failure Cuts Meira's Day Short After Leading 71 Laps NEWTON, Iowa. (June 24, 2007) -- Delphi Panther Racing driver Vitor Meira was able to avoid the crash-fest that was the...
Vitor Meira, Kosuke Matsuura Victims of Iowa Speedway Melee
Suspension Failure Cuts Meira's Day Short After Leading 71 Laps
NEWTON, Iowa. (June 24, 2007) -- Delphi Panther Racing driver Vitor Meira was able to avoid the crash-fest that was the Iowa Corn Growers Indy 250 Sunday afternoon at Iowa Speedway, but a suspension failure late in the event cost Panther what would have been a guaranteed podium finish. Meira, who led 71 laps in the race, lost his left-front suspension as he was braking to enter pit lane for his final pit stop. He finished ninth.
The day for Kosuke Matsuura was equally frustrating. Coming off his best finish of the season at Texas, Kosuke was running in ninth position as the race was nearing its mid-point when he was collected in an accident after a restart on Lap 99. Matsuura was behind the initial accident, but was hit by a stray car and spun into the outside retaining wall just before the first turn. Along with Matsuura, drivers Danica Patrick, Sam Hornish Jr., A.J. Foyt IV, Ed Carpenter and Helio Castroneves were all part of the accident.
Matsuura finished 15th after he qualified in the 16th position.
Meira took the day extremely hard because his Delphi car was as good as it's been all season. Despite qualifying 13th for the race, he had moved pasted Foyt IV, Scott Sharp, Marco Andretti, Jeff Simmons and Carpenter for sixth position and was sniffing at the gearbox of Hornish before the first caution period. Vitor pitted on Lap 73, just moments before a caution flag and his No. 4 car had moved into the lead.
A brief problem with the fuel probe during a Lap 147 pit stop forced Meira to drop from first to fifth, but two laps later he was in third position, just behind eventual race winner Dario Franchitti and Andretti. It was shortly thereafter, when he prepared for his final stop, that the suspension failure ended a strong run.
Vitor is now tied with Danica Patrick for eighth position in the IndyCar Series championship standings. He led the race twice today for a total of 71 laps, second to only Franchitti. He has collected Top Ten finishes is six of his eight starts this season.
The IndyCar Series will travel to Richmond International Raceway next Saturday night for the SunTrust Indy Challenge, a race where Meira finished second last season. Vitor has had the Richmond date circled on his calendar for the entire year, since he felt had the 2006 event not finished under caution he would have won the race.
He'll get another chance next Saturday night.
"The Delphi Panther car was the best car on the track today, period. We might not have had the fastest car, but we had the best one. (On the DNF) We had a suspension failure. I was coming into the pits on my last stop and when I hit the brakes my left-front suspension folded. The Panther team needs a break and we thought today was it. The Delphi Panther guys have been working too hard and we all deserved better."
"After the green flag I was concentrated on the restart, and I saw a bunch of people going two- and three-wide and I tried to avoid it. I thought I was through it but somebody hit me and I ended up in the wall. I am really disappointed. I felt the Panasonic Panther car was as good as it's been all season. I'm looking forward to the next race."