Frustrated Meira Collects Second Straight Fifth Place Finish at Texas Matsuura Finishes Ninth; Best Finish of Season FORT WORTH, Tex. (June 8, 2007) -- Both Panther Racing drivers collected their best finishes of the season Saturday night...
Frustrated Meira Collects Second Straight Fifth Place Finish at Texas
Matsuura Finishes Ninth; Best Finish of Season
FORT WORTH, Tex. (June 8, 2007) -- Both Panther Racing drivers collected their best finishes of the season Saturday night in the Bombardier Learjet 500k at Texas Motor Speedway, where Vitor Meira finished fifth for the second straight race, and Kosuke Matsuura finish ninth, his first Top Ten result of the season.
Meira was able to drive his way to the front after starting in 13th-position, and just missed out of a fourth-place finish when Indy 500 Dario Franchitti was able to nose across the line just ahead of the No. 4 Delphi Honda on the final lap.
Despite the strong results, both of Panther's drivers shared frustration at the conclusion of the 228-lap event from some serious confusion surrounding the first caution period.
During the first yellow flag period on Lap 47, Vitor was leading the race and completed his first pit stop. At the same time, several cars passed the pace car under yellow, which led to serious confusion on the part of IndyCar Series officials. Instead of retaining the lead of the race, Meira was shuffled behind several cars, many of which had to make two pit stops under the yellow. The team was never given a proper explanation for the mix-up.
Meira was the leader of laps 47-49.
Matsuura shared in the disappointment after he was penalized for passing the pace car amongst the confusion. Thinking he was going to get waved around the pace car, he proceeded to drive by, which resulted in a thirty-second stop and hold penalty. None of the other cars that passed the pace car were penalized. Despite the penalty that cost him a lap, Kosuke battled back for his best finish of the season.
The IndyCar Series will have next weekend off before traveling to Iowa Speedway for the first every Indy-car race at the new speedway.
"We're still trying to figure out what in the world happened during the first yellow flag. I was in the lead during the caution, did my pit stop, and ended out behind several cars that had to make two stops. The Delphi car still should have been leading the race. What an absolute mess. I wasn't one of the cars that passed the pace car, and somehow we end up near the end of the line? I was the only one to respect the pace car, and I was the one that was the most penalized. It might not have changed the final result at the end of the day, but I thought the Panther team was lucky and instead we were penalized. We still don't have an answer."
"During the first yellow, there was so many confusion, and I didn't know which position I was in so I passed the pace car thinking I was on the lead lap. However, I wasn't on lead lap and I got 30 seconds penalty. I am very frustrated in IRL for not being able to handle the situation better, they could've told the team where I was supposed to go back out and let us know my position sooner. After all I was able to finish the race in 9th position and brought the car back safe to the team so I will just keep doing my best and move up the position."