Vitor Meira Finishes Second Place at Richmond Race Panther Moves Up to Fifth in IndyCar Series Championship RICHMOND, Va. (June 24, 2006) -- Panther Racing driver Vitor Meira passed every car on the grid except race winner Sam Hornish Jr.
Vitor Meira Finishes Second Place at Richmond Race
Panther Moves Up to Fifth in IndyCar Series Championship
RICHMOND, Va. (June 24, 2006) -- Panther Racing driver Vitor Meira passed every car on the grid except race winner Sam Hornish Jr. during a brilliant second-place run in the SunTrust Indy Challenge at Richmond International Raceway. The 29-year-old Brazilian drove his way through the IndyCar Series field on three occasions en route to his sixth career second place result, and second in his last three starts for Panther Racing.
Meira's third Top Five finish of the season puts him in fifth place in the IndyCar Series standings, behind only the two-car operations of Team Penske and Ganassi Racing. The team sits just 25 points behind fourth-place Dan Wheldon.
After staring sixth, Meira climbed to fourth in only a handful of laps and had reached third by the event's 40th lap. A problem with the wheel gun on the team's first pit stop dropped Panther's driver to tenth, but as he did all night, Vitor quickly picked his way back to the top of the field.
Vitor now has 18 Top Five and 32 Top Ten finishes in his career.
The team's last charge was its most impressive. Meira slipped past Marco Andretti on Lap 228 for fourth, then Helio Castroneves five laps later for third, which set up for his most dramatic move of the night. With Dario Franchitti in second place and attempting to pass a lapped car on the inside, Meira made his move; diving to the inside and nearly running into the grass as Franchitti moved in defense of Vitor's charge. Meira took the position and was unable to reel in Hornish as a late-race caution ended the 250-lap race under yellow.
Panther has finished in the Top Ten at every race this season, excluded Homestead, where a mechanical problem left them in 16th. This is the best start for the team since the championship season of 2002.
The team heads to Kansas Speedway next weekend, a racetrack where Meira has finished second and third, respectively, in the last two seasons, finishing both races in photo finishes.
Vitor Meira Quote:
"I think we had the best car on the racetrack tonight. We just ran out of time. This car was so strong coming off of the corners. In all my years of driving I have never had a short-oval car that was as strong as the Panther car was tonight. These guys at Panther Racing are a family, and you can tell by the way they put these racecars together. I only worked as hard as the team did tonight, and that's why we finished so strong. If we would have had another restart I think I could have won this race. Look at what we're doing with no major sponsor against the big guys. And the thing is, we're just getting started."