IRL: Meira puts Michigan turmoil in past

Vitor Meira weathered a heavy crash at last weekend's Michigan International Speedway that has left him sore, but not uneager, for the 2007 Indy Racing League season to continue on Saturday (August 11th) at Kentucky Speedway. Meira is in his ...

Vitor Meira weathered a heavy crash at last weekend's Michigan International Speedway that has left him sore, but not uneager, for the 2007 Indy Racing League season to continue on Saturday (August 11th) at Kentucky Speedway.

Meira is in his second full season at Indianapolis-based Panther Racing, sitting fifteenth in points with three top-fives and a season's best of fourth at the Homestead/Miami Speedway opener.

He'll join a field of eighteen cars at the one-mile oval that sits in the hills of north-central bluegrass country for the three hundred mile event's early evening 6:30 PM start.

"Kentucky always makes me remember the past because my very first race was there," he confided on Wednesday during a media teleconference. "I can remember my first impression of how fast it was there. It also makes me appreciate how lucky I am to be in this position with a great team. It reminds me that I have to push hard to win."

The Brazilian racer took a moment to look back at last weekend's race at Michigan International Speedway, where only seven cars were running at speed after accidents took their toll on the original twenty-car field.

"Michigan was wild!" he said, "but it's always that way. The difference is, at some tracks you know what to expect; and others it's an unknown. The speed and the concentration is about the same at Michigan as other places, but the amount of control is always different."

"It's good to run close and two-three wide, but everyone has to understand that bad things can happen. We have to push, and race hard; but we also have to know when to do that and at Michigan we were a little over the edge. Everybody during the race was a little bit over-that's how it was at that track."

"But what we've learned it doesn't matter how much experience, who you run with, mistakes happen and we all have to keep that in mind," he said.

Meira was in a hard smack-up of his own, colliding with Team Penske's Helio Castroneves on lap 59 of the two hundred-lap event. He went backwards into the SAFER barrier at high speed, sustaining a jolting blow to his back, shoulders and head in the impact.

"It's amazing how much those cars have improved and how much the Indy Racing League has done to make them safe. My accident, for example, my head experienced ninety G's. That was a big crash. Even though I'm a little sore it is amazing I walked away!"

"Dario (Franchitti) flipped, then landed on top of Dixon and Foyt, when we were going over two hundred miles per hour," he said of the incredible close-call that could easily have taken Franchitti's life. "It's amazing how safe the cars are. My own car, it's amazing how much impact it took and I'm fine."

Meira called Castroneves earlier in the week, and both men talked their way through what at first looked like a volatile situation trackside.

"We're both experienced racers and can work out our problems," said Meira. "We could clearly see this was a racing accident. He never turned into me and I would never turn into him on a straightaway-it doesn't serve any purpose."

"The reason I called was to ask if he's okay; because that's all that really matters," Meira added of his conversation with Castroneves.

"We both understand the accident was nobody's fault, but that we could avoid it; and that we're both okay, and that is what matters most."

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Vitor Meira
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske