IRL: Kentucky: Panoz race report

Sharp leads Meira to Panoz victory in Kentucky thriller SPARTA, KY - Scott Sharp and Vitor Meira held a classic duel from the final restart in this afternoon's AMBER Alert Portal Indy 300 on the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway tri-oval to gain the ...

Sharp leads Meira to Panoz victory in Kentucky thriller

SPARTA, KY - Scott Sharp and Vitor Meira held a classic duel from the final restart in this afternoon's AMBER Alert Portal Indy 300 on the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway tri-oval to gain the first Panoz victory of the 2005 IndyCar Series season.

Sharp's #8 Delphi/Fernandez Panoz/Honda/Firestone machine beat Meira's #17 Menards/Johns Manville Panoz/Honda to the stripes by 0.0779 seconds after 200 exciting laps of competition. It was the 18th closest finish in the IRL history and Fernandez Racing's second consecutive victory on this track.

"I am so excited to bring Panoz its first victory of the 2005 season," Sharp exclaimed. "My job at the last green (on lap 175) was to free up the car as much as I could with adjustments in the cockpit. I kept the car on the bottom of the track; I wasn't going to give Vitor that option."

"I've always liked this track," Sharp continued. "It's challenging with the bumps and it's an aggressive track. I've just naturally had a comfortable feel around here. The inside line was the place to be (at the end); it was bumpy, especially on new tires but I had to stay there."

Meira's story was a bit different. "We started conservative and tried to save everything early in the race by being consistent. When I was leading in the middle of the race, I had a very good car. We had to position ourselves to get back to the lead after the last round of stops because it's very hard to get around anyone here," the Brazilian explained."

"Scott was very, very quick and I tried to get him on the last lap. He did a very good job of holding his line, though, and it wasn't going to be. We're doing the right things to position ourselves for victory," Meira stated. "My Panoz was awesome and it helped us get back in the game today. The more we ran, the better our car would get."

Panoz design chief Simon Marshall was over the top to see the sole American designed and built Indy Racing League chassis back in Victory Lane on the Kentucky Speedway tri-oval. "There's something about this track that's good for us. We were very good here last year, too, when Adrian Fernandez won. That was a great battle between Scott and Vitor and it was good to see we could definitely race with the Andretti Green Racing cars straight up."

In one week's time, the Indy cars face combat once more on the Pikes Peak International Raceway mile oval with the Honda Indy 225, the 13th contest in a 17-event campaign.

-panoz

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Scott Sharp , Adrian Fernandez , Vitor Meira