IRL: Kansas: Panoz race report

Meira finishes third with Panoz in fast Kansas contest KANSAS CITY - Vitor Meira tried his best to reel in the two Andretti Green Racing cars at the front of the field yet fell short at the close of 200 laps of side-by-side racing today,...

Meira finishes third with Panoz in fast Kansas contest

KANSAS CITY - Vitor Meira tried his best to reel in the two Andretti Green Racing cars at the front of the field yet fell short at the close of 200 laps of side-by-side racing today, finishing third in the Argent Mortgage Indy 300 on Kansas Speedway's 1.5-mile oval.

Driving Rahal Letterman Racing's #17 Menards/Johns Manville Panoz/Honda/Firestone challenger from third on the 22-car grid, Meira "had nowhere to go at the end" and finished just 0.0242 seconds behind Tony Kanaan and Dan Wheldon. Theirs was the second tightest three-car finish in the ten-year history of the Indy Racing League's IndyCar Series.

"There was just no place to make a pass. The high side of the track was working when you were in traffic," Meira explained, "but at the end and by myself I couldn't make it stick. Overall, while we didn't have the car to win today we were close and that is good. My crew made the difference this afternoon; we had no mistakes."

Veteran Scott Sharp brought the #8 Delphi/Fernandez Panoz/Honda home sixth, taking part in what he considered "an exciting back-and-forth race." Chasing the handling on his Panoz, "which a lot of people did" when the skies opened up this morning and changed the character of the track, Sharp's crew was able to "get the Panoz dialed in more and more" as the race progressed. "I was able to get a few guys there at the end and salvage a good points finish."

Darren Manning parlayed a fifth-place start into seventh at the close of racing in an event that saw only three cars fail to finish and included 60 final laps of green flag racing. Manning's #10 Target Panoz/Toyota ran "a good race all in all. I put myself in a good position with 20 laps to go and that's when the real race began for me. It was a good top-10 finish for our guys" after all three Target cars crashed last week at Richmond.

Polesitter Danica Patrick was ninth at the stripes with her #16 Argent Mortgage/Pioneer Panoz/Honda. The rookie was "completely flat on the power" at the start but now recognizes that "it's tough when you're out in front because you don't have the draft." She suffered electronics problems throughout the race and had slow pit stops that held her back.

"On the track I felt like I had a really great car. I think it was fast and I was able to catch people and overtake for the most part after a couple of tries," as Patrick learns the nuances of Indy car racing.

Teammate Buddy Rice, the 2004 winner here finished tenth with his #15 Argent Mortgage/Pioneer Panoz/Honda, giving Rahal Letterman Racing three cars in the top ten. Rice was running a fuel conservation race and hoping for a late yellow that never came. He had to call for a splash of methanol with four laps remaining.

The Indy cars sojourn until July 16th and then undertake race #9 at Nashville Superspeedway, the final night contest of the 17-event 2005 season.

-emt/panoz-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Darren Manning , Scott Sharp , Tony Kanaan , Dan Wheldon , Buddy Rice , Danica Patrick , Vitor Meira