MEIRA TAKES NINTH AT MILWAUKEE WEST ALLIS, Wis. - All in all the 2005 IRL IndyCar Series stop in Milwaukee is one that the drivers and members of Rahal Letterman Racing may just want to forget as a day filled with promise ended in a pair of ...
MEIRA TAKES NINTH AT MILWAUKEE
WEST ALLIS, Wis. - All in all the 2005 IRL IndyCar Series stop in Milwaukee is one that the drivers and members of Rahal Letterman Racing may just want to forget as a day filled with promise ended in a pair of crashed cars and a lone top-ten finish.
A stellar run by RLR's rookie wonder Danica Patrick was negated when she hit an oil spot on the track and lost control of the No. 16 Argent Mortgage/Pioneer Honda/Panoz/Firestone on lap 127. Patrick had run consistently in the top-six and at the time of the accident she was closing in on fifth place Tony Kanaan.
"It was hard work but a lot of fun racing with Tomas (Scheckter), Dario (Franchitti) and Tony (Kanaan) on the short track," said Patrick. "The hardest thing about today was that there wasn't any consistentcy in the track. The grip would be decent for a few laps and then it was gone. Just when you thought you were ok you would get a scare because of the slick conditions. was able to get into sixth and close a little on Dario and Tony. But when I turned in in Turn Two, the car was pushing. So I turned a little more and the rear just came around. I was surprised by the snap of the car. The conditions were pretty rough with the heat today. I was ready for the first hit on the outside. Then the second hit on the inside surprised me. I'm a little mad because I felt like we had a good chance for the top-five. I thought to myself a few laps before I hit, if I just finish I have a great shot at a top-five."
Less than 40 laps later Buddy Rice who had moved into the top-ten in his Argent Pioneer Honda slammed into the backstretch wall after something broke on his car. Rice suffered his fifth DNF of the season but maintained his position in the point standings.
"It was very slippery out there and we were holding on as best as possible," said Rice. "I was trying to stay out of the way of the leaders today. Then I was just cruising down the back straight and something broke. I don't know what happened, but the rear end just came around and hit the wall. I jumped out fast because felt the heat and I guessed the car was on fire. It just felt like something in the left rear snapped. I couldn't believe that it happened on the straightaway. Well, that is how the season has gone for us. It just seems to be one bad break after another. We just have to get a good finish and get back on track with the No. 15 Argent Pioneer Honda."
Left to run on the treacherously slick Milwaukee Mile in the temperatures that peaked in the high 90s, Vitor Meira persevered and brought home his Rahal Letterman Team Menard/Johns Manville Honda in ninth place. It marked the seventh time in ten races that Meira has posted the highest RLR finish.
"That was a long day for us," said Meira. "The car was sliding all over and I was just trying to hang on. Unfortunately, Danica and Buddy had the same problems and with worse results. I'm just glad they are okay. We had some pretty good racing in the middle of the field and actually we could stay ahead of some of the leaders on the long runs. But once you get a lap down, it is very hard to make it up. I was racing with the Cheever guys, Buddy and a few others. Overall, we got some points out of here and we can move onto Michigan where I know we will have good cars. We need a good finish after the last few races."
Sam Hornish Jr. the pole sitter for the race, fought his way back to the front twice in the last 20 laps to post his second win of the season. Dario Franchitti finished second when he attempted to stretch his fuel but couldn't fight off the quicker or more aggressive Hornish.
Rahal Letterman Racing and the rest of the IRL IndyCar Series will return to the track next weekend at the Michigan International Speedway