Meira Uses Late Dive For Another Podium Finish at Infineon Raceway Brazilian Has Finished Top Five at All Three Road Course Events SONOMA, Calif. (Aug. 27, 2006) -- On an Infineon Raceway track where nobody could pass, Vitor Meira found a ...
Meira Uses Late Dive For Another Podium Finish at Infineon Raceway
Brazilian Has Finished Top Five at All Three Road Course Events
SONOMA, Calif. (Aug. 27, 2006) -- On an Infineon Raceway track where nobody could pass, Vitor Meira found a way.
The Panther Lincoln Tech driver, who hadn't finished higher than eighth in a qualification or practice all weekend, utilized a dramatic late-race pass to finish third in the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma.
It was his sixth podium finish in 13 starts this season, a run that includes seven Top Five and 11 Top Ten finishes. Both of those statistics equal Meira's career high for a season, both recorded during last season with Rahal-Letterman Racing.
After starting in eighth place and dropping as low as 14th in the field, Panther's consistent Brazilian played it safe in the early part of the race and saved his best for the final laps. Vitor climbed to fifth by Lap 44 and after his final pit stop, he ran eighth. A long battle with Ryan Briscoe and Scott Dixon ensued and the Lincoln Tech No. 4 car made contact with both as the three fought for position.
Running in sixth with just three laps to go, Meira made his boldest move of the day. Stuck behind a string of cars that included Tony Kanaan, Dixon and Helio Castroneves Panther's driver overtook them all in the course's final turns. He passed Dixon on the outside of the carousel and out-braked Kanaan, who was pitting, and Castroneves into Turn Nine, locking up his right front tire to avoid contact. Once the smoked clear, the No. 4 car pulled away for another thrilling finish.
Even though Meira finished ahead of all six contenders eligible for the IndyCar Series Championship, his team was eliminated from the title chase. He still has a shot of finishing as high as fourth going into the final race at Chicago.
The IndyCar Series will take a weekend off before traveling to Chicagoland Speedway for the season finale. The race will be held on Sunday, September 10th, with live coverage provided by ABC at 1:30 p.m. (EDT). Additional coverage will be provided by the IMS Radio Network and XM Satellite Radio Channel 145.
Vitor Meira Quote:
"It was another great run for the Lincoln Tech Panther team. It was because of Panther Racing and my team that I was able to be so strong in the closing laps of the race. They were holding me back early and that's why I feel like we were so good at the end. (On his late move) I passed outside Dixon on the carousel and right after that I think Castroneves was sliding or taking it conservative because of the championship, because I closed on him really fast. I just went for it. I out-braked him going into the last turn while Kanaan went into the pits. That was the best 10 laps I've ever had in an Indy-car. It's tough to pass here, and that was a risky move, but with this team behind me I had no doubt."