IRL: St. Pete: Panther Racing race report

Meira Brings Home First Top Five for Panther Racing Brazilian Duplicates 2005 Effort With Climb from 12th to Fifth ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- With a smart and clean race Sunday in the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Panther Racing driver...

Meira Brings Home First Top Five for Panther Racing

Brazilian Duplicates 2005 Effort With Climb from 12th to Fifth

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- With a smart and clean race Sunday in the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Panther Racing driver Vitor Meira made the long climb up the grid and recorded his first Top Five finish in the No. 4 EcoNova Honda. Vitor started (12th) and finished (5th) in the same position just a season ago on the Streets of St. Pete.

The Top Five result marked the best finish for Panther Racing since Chicagoland Speedway last year.

The 29-year-old driver overcame contact with fellow Brazilian Roberto Moreno early in the race and completed the event without the tire ramp on his right side. The damage made the day slightly more difficult to drive, but Meira avoided trouble that plagued several of the IndyCar Series drivers on Sunday. He ran as high as fourth until a late stop for a splash of fuel, and finally settled on the five spot.

The result gives Vitor his 16th Top Five finish in his young career. He now moves into 11th position in the battle for the 2006 IndyCar Series points championship.

It won't be long before the Panther No. 4 EcoNova Honda is back on track, as Meira and the team will participate in a test at the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Wednesday. Panther is coming off their career best finish in the Indianapolis 500, when Buddy Lazier piloted the No. 95 car to a fifth place finish. Panther looks to put Vitor, who finished second at the Speedway last season, just one spot ahead and into Victory Circle in the world's greatest race.

Vitor Meira Quote:

"This is what Panther is capable of with just two months together; just imagine how good we are going to be with more time. We raced smart today. Some people were very aggressive and it cost them. The EcoNova car was very solid, but we never pushed ourselves too hard or took any silly chances. That was a very tough race, it was green lap after green lap after green lap. In the pits, the Panther guys were great and we made some very good calls on our fuel stops. This is just what the team needed heading into Japan and then Indianapolis."

-pr

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Buddy Lazier , Vitor Meira
Teams Panther Racing