IRL: Richmond: Panther Racing race report

Meira Overcomes Rough Weekend; Finishes Ninth at Richmond Matsuura Has Light Contact with Hornish and Finishes 17th RICHMOND, Va. (June 30, 2007) -- Despite losing both under tray wickers during the SunTrust Indy Challenge Saturday night at...

Meira Overcomes Rough Weekend; Finishes Ninth at Richmond
Matsuura Has Light Contact with Hornish and Finishes 17th

RICHMOND, Va. (June 30, 2007) -- Despite losing both under tray wickers during the SunTrust Indy Challenge Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway, Delphi Panther Vitor Meira hung onto a loose racecar and finished ninth place. The result is his seventh Top Ten finish this season in just nine starts.

Kosuke Matsuura also battled a handling issue on his No. 55 Panasonic Panther Honda, and despite several strong pits stops from the Super Aguri Panther crew, he was unable to make many moves on the track. Late in the race, while in 16th position, Kosuke made contact with Sam Hornish Jr. and while the damage was light, a bent toe-link forced the team to finish 17th.

Meira started ninth due to yesterday's rainout of qualifications -- which caused the field to be set by points standings -- but his car was strong at the start. He passed Danica Patrick on the outside of turns one and two on Lap Seven to move into seventh.

The first caution on Lap 61 was costly for the Delphi Panther team for two reasons; the first, a dropped wheel nut during a tire change forced Meira from his seventh position into tenth. But, it was after the race the team realized that the debris that caused the first caution period was both of Meira's under tray wickers -- an aerodynamic piece near the back of the car that is vital for rear downforce, especially while running in traffic.

From that point, Vitor had to battle with a loose car and was unable to make a move into the Top Five. He held off race leader Dario Franchitti for over 25 laps in the middle of the race to remain on the lead lap, but the lost aero pieces hindered all hopes of a podium finish.

Vitor dropped one position in the IndyCar Series points standings and is in ninth, but now trails Danica by just six points. The league will race next Sunday afternoon at Watkins Glen International Raceway, where Meira finished second last season -- the first of three second-place results he had last season.

Matsuura is in 18th position in the championship and finished 18th at The Glen in 2006.

Vitor Meira:

"After we lost the under tray wickers, it got extremely difficult for us out there. That was the best downforce we could have in traffic. The Delphi car was pushing in the corners then loose on exit, and that made it pretty tough out there. But the race we won was the Delphi Panther crew getting the car ready for the race after the crash. We finished well today because of all their hard work yesterday. We needed to be smart and finish well, and that's what we did."

Kosuke Matsuura:

"I've had a hard time handling the car since the practice sessions so I knew it would be a tough race for me and it was. The car was running well but I was starting from the back and we all have Honda engines it was so hard to overtake. It is disappointing that I didn't get to finish the race but the car is not badly damaged so that's one positive thing."

-credit: pr

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Dario Franchitti , Kosuke Matsuura , Sam Hornish Jr. , Danica Patrick , Vitor Meira
Teams Panther Racing