Pit Incident Ruins Meira's Strong Run; Panther Finishes 22nd at Kansas Stray Tire from Buddy Rice's Car Breaks Suspension, Cuts Race Short KANSAS CITY, Kan. (April 27, 2008) -- What looked to be a Top Ten run for Vitor Meira ended abruptly in...
Pit Incident Ruins Meira's Strong Run; Panther Finishes 22nd at Kansas
Stray Tire from Buddy Rice's Car Breaks Suspension, Cuts Race Short
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (April 27, 2008) -- What looked to be a Top Ten run for Vitor Meira ended abruptly in pit lane Sunday at Kansas Speedway when a stray tire from Buddy Rice's car struck and damaged the front suspension on the No. 4 Delphi National Guard Honda Dallara. Vitor finished the RoadRunner Turbo Indy 300 in 21st position.
After a 10th-place qualification effort, Meira jumped to eighth at the start of the race just before a Lap 1 caution came out for a crash involving Enrique Bernoldi. Meira's car was pushing so badly it prevented him from moving above eighth in the first stint, but front wing adjustments on each stop enabled Panther's driver to begin to move up the field. Vitor shuffled between the ninth and 13th positions as he battled with competitors Danica Patrick, Tomas Scheckter, Hideki Mutoh and Marco Andretti.
As he made his third stop of the day on Lap 101, Meira exited his pit and made contact with a loose wheel from the car of Buddy Rice, who was pitted in front of the Delphi National Guard team. Vitor had complained about tires from Rice's crew being too far towards the slow speed pit lane on each of his first two stops. The damage to Meira's left-front suspension was significant enough to force the Panther team to park his car for the day in 21st place.
Ganassi driver Dan Wheldon won the Kansas race for the second consecutive season, with Tony Kanaan second and Wheldon's teammate Scott Dixon rounding out the podium.
Panther is staying in Kansas for a private test tomorrow with Meira and Firestone Indy Light series driver Brent Sherman, who will be testing an IndyCar Series machine for the first time in his career. Sherman has collected one podium and two Top Ten results in his first four starts in his rookie season of Indy Lights. Tomorrow's test is part of the Firestone Indy Lights bonus test program.
Vitor Meira, No. 4 Delphi National Guard:
(One the pit lane incident): "Buddy Rice's right-side tire guys were causing us problems all day. I complained about them leaving their tires too far out on the first stop. Then the team went over there and complained, but I guess what we told them didn't matter. I was on the radio about it every time I pulled into the pits. On the last time I stopped, Buddy parked a little crooked, and his guys stayed tight like they should, but when my front wing cleared, one of their guys either threw their tire in front of me or didn't control it and I hit it. It's very stupid."