IRL: Michigan: Panther Racing race report

Panther's Run Continues: Meira Second at MIS Brazilian Leads Most Laps in Firestone Indy 400 BROOKLYN, Mich. (July 31, 2006) -- After spending the majority of the 2006 season running in the top three, Revive Panther Racing driver Vitor Meira...

Panther's Run Continues: Meira Second at MIS

Brazilian Leads Most Laps in Firestone Indy 400

BROOKLYN, Mich. (July 31, 2006) -- After spending the majority of the 2006 season running in the top three, Revive Panther Racing driver Vitor Meira spent most of the day Sunday leading the field in the Firestone Indy 400 at Michigan International Raceway. Meira eventually finished second - after nearly tracking down eventual winner Helio Castroneves - which gave his Panther team its fifth podium finish of the season.

After a lengthy battle in the top five with Tony Kanaan and both Vision Racing drivers at the start, Meira made his presence known on a restart on the 52nd lap of the race. Starting in fifth place, he sliced through all four competitors ahead of him and several lapped cars, taking the lead in just two laps. Once he put the No. 4 at the front of the field, the 29-year-old Brazilian pulled away from his competition by over two seconds.

After giving up the lead shortly for one quick pit stop, Meira kept his bright orange Dallara at the front of the grid for the next 75 laps.

Meira held off Castroneves during the first two thirds of the race, but the Marlboro Team Penske driver got ahead of the No. 4 car during pit stops on Lap 130. Vitor gave the former Indy 500 champ a run for his money in the last twenty laps, which Castroneves admitted later caused him to "drive like a maniac."

"I was very aggressive," Castroneves said after the race of trying to fend off Meira. "With 10 (laps) to go, I thought everything was good, but I saw an orange dot in my mirror, and I couldn't believe (Meira) caught us like that."

This was Vitor's third second-place finish this season and seventh of his IndyCar Series career.

The team has a podium finish at every different racetrack where the league participates -- short oval, road course, and both 1.5 and two-mile superspeedways.

Today's result broke a tie with Kanaan for fifth place in the IndyCar Series standings, and the Panther Pack pulled within 25 points of fourth place Scott Dixon, just 56 points out of first position. This is the third race the team has led this season.

Meira continues to put together one of the best seasons in his team's eight-year history. Sunday marked his fifth podium finish of the season, which gives him six Top Five and nine Top Ten finishes in his 11 starts. In his 56 career IndyCar Series starts, Vitor has 21 Top Five and 36 Top Ten finishes.

The team has next weekend off before traveling to Kentucky Speedway.

Vitor Meira Quote:
"Panther Racing gave 110 percent today. We are doing it week in and week out at any track with any aero configuration. This is what makes us champions and winners, and that's what we have here at Panther. Everything we do is working perfectly. I can't say any more about what John Barnes, Griff (Mike Griffin) and everybody on the team is doing. We had another great race today and we're going to have three more to complete this season."

-www.pantherracing.com

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Scott Dixon , Tony Kanaan , John Barnes , Vitor Meira
Teams Panther Racing , Team Penske