Panther Racing Signs IndyCar Series Veteran Vitor Meira Pennzoil Continues Support of Two-Time League Champs INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Panther Racing announced Friday the signing of IndyCar Series veteran Vitor Meira as the driver of the ...
Panther Racing Signs IndyCar Series Veteran Vitor Meira
Pennzoil Continues Support of Two-Time League Champs
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Panther Racing announced Friday the signing of IndyCar Series veteran Vitor Meira as the driver of the team's No. 4 Pennzoil Panther Dallara Honda. Meira, who finished second last season in the Indianapolis 500, becomes the fourth driver to pilot the team's No. 4 entry and the first that will be powered by Honda engines.
"We are so excited to sign a world class "A-list" driver like Vitor Meira," Panther co-owner John Barnes said. "Any team would be lucky to have him, and we're excited to have him part of the upcoming 2006 season. Our goal for the past nine years has always been to win races, and I believe with Pennzoil, Vitor and Honda power, we will do just that."
Panther will continue it's nine-year relationship with Pennzoil Lubricants, which has helped define the team's place in open-wheel racing history. The team is lining up new sponsors for the 2006 IndyCar Series season, and information will be released as soon as details are finalized.
"This is a fresh start for me and for Panther Racing," Meira said. "And now we are going to make it a quick start. Everything comes full circle; the Panther No. 4 is the first Indy-car I ever drove. They gave me my rookie test in Texas in 2001 and now we're going racing together. It's been a long offseason and I'm happy that everything has come together the way it did because I'm excited to be with the team and all the potential that we have."
"Pennzoil has been a wonderful partner through the past nine years," Panther co-owner Mike Griffin said. "And we look forward to continuing our relationship with that organization. We're proud to be associated with such a great company and a historic piece in open-wheel racing history. As we always have at Panther, we're going to devote all of our resources and energy to winning races for Pennzoil. We've liked Vitor as a driver and as a person, and we're really excited about having him in the cockpit."
Meira finished seventh in the 2005 IndyCar Series standings, which was best among a talented Rahal Letterman Racing lineup that included the former Indy 500 champ Buddy Rice and last season's Rookie of the Year Danica Patrick. Including the Indianapolis 500 a year ago, Meira has collected four second-place finishes, including the second-closest finish in league history at Kansas Speedway in 2004. In 45 career starts he has collected 15 Top Five and 26 Top Ten finishes.
"One of the things I'm happy about is that I've never really been the main driver with a team," Meira explained. "When I was at Team Menard (in a one-car operation) I was still learning, and this is going to be my first experience of being on a team with 100% attention and focus on my car. And lucky for me it's Panther; ever since I've been in Indy-cars Panther has been winning races and they're a top team."
Panther has accumulated 15 race victories in its eight seasons in the Indy Racing League, which is second most in league history. The team won back-to-back IndyCar Series Championships in 2001 & 2002 with Sam Hornish Jr., and is the only team to win two league titles with the same driver. Meira is set to become the 12th driver to start in the IndyCar Series for Panther.