Sears Point: Panther Racing race report

Pit Strategy Gamble Vaults Meira to Seventh Place Finish at Infineon; Delphi National Guard Team Assists Vitor in Climb from 18th to Top Ten SONOMA, Calif. (August 24, 2008) -- Delphi National Guard driver Vitor Meira used an early ...

Pit Strategy Gamble Vaults Meira to Seventh Place Finish at Infineon; Delphi National Guard Team Assists Vitor in Climb from 18th to Top Ten

SONOMA, Calif. (August 24, 2008) -- Delphi National Guard driver Vitor Meira used an early out-of-sequence pit stop to skyrocket from his 18th-place starting position to a seventh place finish in the PEAK Antifreeze & Motor Oil Indy Grand Prix at Infineon Raceway. The result helped Vitor and his Panther Racing team jump another spot in the IndyCar Series championship, where they now reside in the 11th position.

Just six races ago, Panther was in the 18th spot in the IndyCar Series championship, but after finishing no worse than seventh place in four of the last five races, Meira has climbed a remarkable seven spots in the points chase. The team is now just 14 points behind eighth place driver Hideki Mutoh and 26 points away from seventh place Marco Andretti.

The result is Vitor's seventh Top Ten finish of the 2008 season, and his fourth Top Ten at Infineon.

Meira qualified in 18th position yesterday, despite posting a practice time within the Top Five, and the team's Brazilian driver vowed to have a better race. The team wasted no time Sunday afternoon in making a gamble that would enable the driver of the No. 4 car to make drastic improvements on the 12-turn 2.303-mile permanent road course.

Team owner John Barnes, Panther's race strategist, called Meira into the pits on Lap 10 to get his driver out of slower traffic and make a gamble to gain positions. The off-sequence strategy played out well for the team, as Meira was in 17th at the time he pitted, but then never spent much time outside the top ten contenders during an 80-lap race that had just one full-course caution.

In the closing laps, Vitor closed on rival E.J. Viso, but his rear brake pads were almost completely gone and Viso slipped out of reach in the final two laps of the race.

Vitor Meira, No. 4 Delphi National Guard:

"What a great day for us. I've got to thank everybody on the Delphi National Guard pit stand, because it was JB (team owner John Barnes), David Cripps and the guys that really made this happen for us. They took a risk early and it paid off for us. At the end of the race, I took one shot at passing Viso, but I was losing rear brakes badly and the back was skating around on me. It was a great points' day for us too, especially after starting 18th. I think a few weeks ago we were in 16th position in the championship, and now we're in eleventh. We've still got two more races and more positions to make up."

-credit: pr

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Marco Andretti , Hideki Mutoh , John Barnes , Vitor Meira
Teams Panther Racing