Meira Leads Indianapolis 500, Finishes Second to Winner Scott Dixon; Delphi National Guard Driver Gives Team its Best Career Finish at Indianapolis INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (May 25, 2008) -- In addition to giving his Panther Racing team its best ...
Meira Leads Indianapolis 500, Finishes Second to Winner Scott Dixon; Delphi National Guard Driver Gives Team its Best Career Finish at Indianapolis
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (May 25, 2008) -- In addition to giving his Panther Racing team its best finish at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Delphi National Guard driver Vitor Meira pulled off the move of the race while storming into the lead past Scott Dixon after a restart on lap 159.
Vitor finished second in the 92nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race to Dixon, despite a spirited run from the team's veteran driver. The result was his second runner-up finish at Indianapolis, and the result matched his effort from 2005 while driving for Rahal-Letterman Racing. Meira led a total of 12 laps during the race, marking the first time Panther has led laps at the greatest racetrack in the world.
Meira qualified in the middle of the third row, and paced himself throughout the event. At the start, he was fighting with a push and his car was sliding when it was running in traffic, but changes to the tire pressure and front wing in each of his first three stops put the team's No. 4 car in position to challenge.
Meira had moved into fifth position by lap 123 and continued to move forward; reaching fourth on lap 128 until his pit stop on Lap 135. It was his second to last stop, on the 156th lap, that Meira jumped two positions and was in a position to win the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
Meira took the restart on Lap 159 behind Ed Carpenter and Dixon, and followed the No. 9 car past Carpenter's Vision Racing machine. As the two competitors approached the first turn, Meira kept his foot in the throttle and shot past Dixon on the outside of the corner and into the lead of the Indy 500. Meira's Delphi National Guard car led the next 12 laps until a yellow came out for a crash involving Milka Duno.
Dixon was able to edge the Panther team on the exit of pit lane, and Meira spent the remaining time on the race trying to make a move on the Ganassi Racing car, which has been the fastest Dallara for the entire month of May. Meira's fastest lap of the entire race came on the 195th circuit of the event, as he tried to make a move on Dixon.
For Meira, the result was a continuation of success at Indianapolis. He has now finished second on two occasions, and has currently finished inside the Top Ten in five straight events. The result is the best finish for Meira and his Panther team since Michigan International Speedway in 2006. The result elevates the No. 4 team to 14th in the IndyCar Series points standings, well within reach of the points leaders with over half the season to go.
Vitor Meira, No. 4 Delphi National Guard:
"Panther is back. We wanted to win today, but this is a major step forward for us. We had a great car today. The Delphi National Guard crew worked on the spot; not missing anything and putting me in a good position to win the race. Our plan was very good and we worked our way during the first five yellows to tune up the car for the last 40 laps and we got there. I needed a little more front wing on the last stint but we decided not to do it and try to beat Dixon on the pits. It didn't happen but I was able to hold Marco at the end of the race and secure the second place for the Panther team. All month I felt like we were going to have a great race. The 300,000-plus soldiers that were watching, and all the great people at Delphi, they really have made this possible for us, and I'm honored to have their logos on my car."
(On his move passing Carpenter and Dixon)"
"I told myself I wasn't going to lift. Dixon had a good restart but mine was even better and I made a move on his outside coming into turn 1. Today it was difficult to pass so when I saw the opportunity I went for it."