Meira, Panther Look for Sixth Win at Texas Motor Speedway Vitor Hopes to Become Fourth Driver to Win for Panther at Lone Star State Oval FORT WORTH, Tex. (June 4, 2008) -- As Panther Racing and Delphi National Guard driver Vitor Meira...
Meira, Panther Look for Sixth Win at Texas Motor Speedway
Vitor Hopes to Become Fourth Driver to Win for Panther at Lone Star State Oval
FORT WORTH, Tex. (June 4, 2008) -- As Panther Racing and Delphi National Guard driver Vitor Meira attempt to return to Victory Lane, they prepare to race at a track where they've visited winners circle more than any other IndyCar Series team -- Texas Motor Speedway. With a total of five victories with three different drivers at the high-banked 1.5-mile oval, the team and its driver are looking at this Saturday night's Bombardier Learjet 550 as a good chance to get Meira his first career win.
Meira, who finished runner-up in the 92nd Indianapolis 500, was running well at Milwaukee until a crash involving Marco Andretti and Ed Carpenter collected the No. 4 Delphi National Guard car, launching it airborne and over the top of Andretti's No. 26 car. While Meira was uninjured in the accident, he was present with official Pilot Wings by Indiana National Guard Major General Martin Umbarger prior to a trip to Brooke Army Medical Center in Fort Sam Houston, Texas -- where Meira and team members visited wounded soldiers on Wednesday.
Soldiers Wings are presented traditionally to soldiers who go on to get their pilots license.
Panther's history at Texas is storied, and the team has won five races with Scott Goodyear (1999, 2000), Sam Hornish, Jr. (2001, 2002) and Tomas Scheckter (2005), who collected the team's last victory driving the Pennzoil Platinum car for the team. Meira has been nearly as successful on the popular track, and collected his first career pole position there in 2002, the same race in which he collected his first podium finish.
Texas is also the only track where Panther has put teammates on the front row. In 2005, the same year Scheckter was victorious, he and then-teammate Tomas Enge swept the first two positions in the race. While it was Scheckter who ended up in victory lane that day, Enge set the fastest lap of the race after an electrical failure put him several laps down.
In his two seasons with Panther, Meira has finished fifth (2007) and sixth (2006).
Vitor Meira, No. 4 Delphi National Guard:
"I just really like Texas and I always have. It was the first track I drove an IndyCar, and that was in a test with Panther Racing in 2001. I remember thinking how crazy I thought these drivers were and I couldn't believe they raced out there with a car right next to them. But now it's a place I really enjoy. I have performed well there and Panther has always performed well there, so we expect good things this weekend. I think, as a team, we have turned things around. Obviously, Milwaukee didn't go well, but the bottom line is we were quick and that's a sign of good things to come the rest of the year."
On Indiana National Guard Major General Umbarger's Presentation of Pilots Wings:
"I thought it was pretty cool. I said last week that flying isn't so bad, it's landing that sucks. But I was surprised today when General Umbarger gave me the pilot's wings. We were laughing about it and everybody that came with us to Brooke Army Medical Center today thought it was really funny. After that, I showed them the YouTube video that shows the in-car camera with the 'Dukes of Hazard' horn playing when I go airborne. The bottom line is, you never want to crash a car, period. But at least we've been able to have a little fun with it this week. We'll watch the video and laugh, but honestly, I never want to do it again."