IRL: Michigan: Panther Racing race report

Matsuura Equals Career Best Finish with Fourth Place at Michigan Japanese Driver Avoids Carnage and Matches Panther's Highest Result in 2007 BROOKLYN, Mich. (August 5, 2007) -- Super Aguri Panther Racing driver Kosuke Matsuura drove his way...

Matsuura Equals Career Best Finish with Fourth Place at Michigan
Japanese Driver Avoids Carnage and Matches Panther's Highest Result in 2007

BROOKLYN, Mich. (August 5, 2007) -- Super Aguri Panther Racing driver Kosuke Matsuura drove his way to a fourth place finish Sunday in the rain-delayed Firestone Indy 400 at Michigan Speedway, where the Japanese driver equaled his career best result and matched Panther's highest finish of the year.

Delphi Panther driver Vitor Meira was running well early in the event, but was involved in an accident with Helio Castroneves on Lap 59 and finished in 18th position.

Matsuura, who started in 14th, battled throughout the 200-lap event and drove his best race of the season, avoiding carnage that took out over half the IndyCar Series field. Kosuke entered the pits in fifth position following the day's biggest accident on Lap 144, and his Panasonic crew helped catapult the No. 55 into second position, the highest running position the team has attained all season.

While Kosuke dropped to fifth on the restart because he stopped to top off his fuel tank with Ethanol, he improved another position when Danica Patrick had a tire going down. Despite his best efforts to pass former teammate Scott Sharp, Matsuura settled on fourth position. It was a strong and impressive finish for the Panasonic crew, who have battled through a great deal of misfortune throughout the year.

Matsuura's finish matches Meira's fourth place finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway for the team's highest of the season.

For Meira, the day was especially frustrating because after an air pressure adjustment on his first pit stop of the day, the No. 4 Delphi Honda was running as quick as the leaders. After starting 11th, Meira had climbed as high as seventh with the front-runners as they battled on Michigan's thrilling two-mile oval. As he prepared to make a move on Castroneves for ninth on Lap 59, the two Brazilians made contact, sending both cars violently into the outside retaining wall on the front straight.

The finish was Matsuura's fourth Top Ten finish and first Top Five of the year.

Vitor Meira:

"All you have to do is watch the replay. He had somebody in front of him, I didn't. I had plenty of room and he didn't have much. I could see him in front of me and he couldn't see me. I think it was pretty obvious whose fault it was. Why would I turn down into his car on the middle of the front straight? We've always raced clean before. Helio has always been good to me and I've always been good to him. Then he gets out of the car after the accident and acts like Castroneves, but I'm sure we can resolve this like men."

Kosuke Matsuura:

"It's been a long time for me to finish this strong. It was the same result as Kentucky in 2004 and to do it a second time with Super Aguri Panther Racing is awesome. I was fighting with (Scott) Sharp for third position, but I just couldn't get by him. We needed just a little bit more speed in the Panasonic car. The crew guys did a great job as well all day and this race meant a lot for me. This is awesome."

-credit: pr

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Scott Sharp , Helio Castroneves , Kosuke Matsuura , Vitor Meira
Teams Panther Racing