IRL: Richmond: Panther Racing preview

Vitor Meira Confident about Richmond Race Weekend Matsuura Looks to Overcome Bad Luck as Season Enters its Second Half RICHMOND, Va. (June 28, 2007) -- Delphi Panther Racing driver Vitor Meira believes if last season's SunTrust Indy Challenge...

Vitor Meira Confident about Richmond Race Weekend
Matsuura Looks to Overcome Bad Luck as Season Enters its Second Half

RICHMOND, Va. (June 28, 2007) -- Delphi Panther Racing driver Vitor Meira believes if last season's SunTrust Indy Challenge had ended under green, he would have passed race winner Sam Hornish Jr. for his first career victory. Forced to finish runner-up for the second time at Richmond International Raceway in 2006, Meira is looking for a more satisfying weekend on the IndyCar Series' most exciting track.

And, after Hornish called Vitor "desperate" while taking a couple verbal shots after the Iowa race -- blaming the Brazilian for an accident on Lap 99 that happened half a lap behind him - there's nobody on the track Meira would rather leave in his rearview mirrors.

For Super Aguri driver Kosuke Matsuura, this Saturday night provides another change to shake the bad luck that has hindered a promising season. Kosuke was one of many victims during the Lap 99 restart crash last weekend in Iowa, which was another DNF by no fault of his own. Despite a ninth place finish at Texas -- his best of the season -- Matsuura has watched some of his best performances of the year end abruptly.

Matsuura will look to turn the tides this weekend in Richmond, a track where he has started three races with a best start of eighth (2006) and a best finish of ninth (2005).

Panther won the race here in 2002 while Hornish was still its driver, and many cite the victory as one of the team's best. In that race, Hornish passed the leader, and then-Penske driver, Gil de Ferran with just two laps to go in the race for the dramatic victory. The final two laps were the only ones the team led in the race.

In the six events at Richmond, Panther has come away with a Top Five finish in each year except 2004.

Richmond's ¾-mile bullring has quickly become one of Vitor's favorite tracks on the IndyCar Series circuit. In addition to his second-place finish here last year, Meira led 40 laps in the 2005 event before he was collected in an accident with Tony Kanaan. In 2004, he qualified eighth for the race and drove his way into a second place result.

Saturday will be his Meira's fifth career start at RIR.

The SunTrust Indy Challenge will be broadcast live on ESPN Saturday evening at 7:30 p.m. with additional coverage provided by the IMS Radio Network and XM Satellite Radio channels 144 and 145.

Vitor Meira:

"I've been excited about the Richmond race since last year. I think we've got a great shot this weekend and we've very confident the Delphi car is going to be good. The race in Iowa didn't turn out the way we wanted, but the good thing is we had a great car. I just wish we would have had a few more laps at this race last year, but that's in the past. All I'm worried about now is staying focused on making sure our car is just as good this Saturday night. If it is, the Panther team is going to have a lot of fun again at Richmond."

Kosuke Matsuura:

"We know we have a good short oval track setup. Especially considering what Vitor did here last year and how strong the team was last weekend. That makes me very excited about the Richmond race. For sure, I can finish Top Five if we don't have any problems like last week."

-credit: pr

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Gil de Ferran , Tony Kanaan , Kosuke Matsuura , Sam Hornish Jr. , Vitor Meira
Teams Panther Racing