Contact with Former Teammate Ends Meira's Richmond Race Early John Andretti, Vitor Tangle Early in SunTrust Indy Challenge RICHMOND, VA. (June 28, 2008) -- Panther Racing driver Vitor Meira fell victim to a messy and crash-filled SunTrust Indy...
Contact with Former Teammate Ends Meira's Richmond Race Early
John Andretti, Vitor Tangle Early in SunTrust Indy Challenge
RICHMOND, VA. (June 28, 2008) -- Panther Racing driver Vitor Meira fell victim to a messy and crash-filled SunTrust Indy Challenge Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway, where the Delphi National Guard driver had contact with former Panther driver John Andretti. The Turn One incident -- for which Andretti apologized -- left Vitor and his Delphi National Guard team in the 20th position.
The race's conclusion ended an adventurous weekend for Panther, after a mechanical issue prevented any quality practice time in the two sessions held on Friday afternoon. After the team replaced the rear gearbox and suspension in time for Friday night's qualifications, Meira got his first real practice laps while the clock was ticking on his four-lap qualifications.
He started in the 17th position.
After narrowly avoiding an accident on Lap 79, when Meira struck the spinning car of Darren Manning, a restart on Lap 91 would conclude the day for the No. 4 car team. Vitor entered the first turn and was struck in the left-rear by Andretti; sending both cars into the retaining wall in the second turn. The two drivers were teammates at Panther last season during the Indianapolis 500, where Andretti made a return to IndyCar Racing after a 12-year hiatus.
Vitor finished second at Watkins in his first start there with Panther in 2006, and was leading last year's event before a fuel pressure problem forced him to lose several laps. The National Guard will remain on the sidepod for Sunday's event, and Firestone Indy Lights driver Dillon Battisitini will join teammate Brent Sherman in a National Guard Delphi paint livery to celebrate the Fourth of July weekend.
Vitor Meira, No. 4 Delphi National Guard:
"Everybody was having a tough time out there tonight. We restarted and as I entered the first turn John Andretti hit me from behind. He was very apologetic in the Delphi Safety truck, but I still feel bad for the Delphi National Guard team. They worked hard, and I was working hard tonight, but sometimes this is what happened. It seems like everybody was really struggling tonight."