Meira Bumped to 6th Place
HPC-Sponsored Vitor Meira of Team Panther Fights Back During Meijer Indy 300.
Sparta, Ky. (August 14, 2006) –Vitor Meira of HPC-sponsored Revive USA Team Panther racing had a rough morning.
Meira, who qualified 9th for the race, made contact with the No. 16 Rahal Letterman Racing Team Argent Dallara/Honda/Firestone driven by Danica Patrick. Late in the morning session of practice, Meira closed quickly on Patrick and tried to miss the No. 16 car by diving down in the infield grass, but his car tagged Patrick’s right rear, spinning both cars.
“The main problem was we had a bunch of cars together,” Meira explained. “Some guys, I think it was the 55 (Kosuke Matsuura), was a little bit too close to me. I did not want to hit Danica, but that is racing.”
Fortunately, both cars only received minor damage. The crash happened a mere six hours prior to the race, so the two teams had to work through their prospective lunches to complete the work. While Patrick sustained minor damage to her rear suspension and radiator, leading Honda to request a complete engine change, the No. 4 Panther car only received some front suspension damage.
20 laps into the race, Meira had slipped down into 13th. After some minor changes during the first pit stop, however, the No. 4 Panther care roared out of the pits and by Lap 60, Meira had fought his way to fourth place.
“We don’t come here to finish sixth or second,” Meira later said. “We come here to win.”
Continuing his fight, Meira moved up to take the lead on Lap 92 where he remained for five laps until he slowly dropped back down the ranks. But in true Meira style, the bright orange No. 4 car remained deadlocked in the leaders’ rearview mirrors, finishing the race in 6th.
“I think this is the hardest we’ve worked during a race all season,” the Brazilian driver later exclaimed. “I had no radio for the last 50 laps and you could see how tight it was on the track. Our strategy was good and we had good pit stops all day, especially our last one which was the best. The Lincoln Tech car’s setup was not the best, but the incident in the warm-up practice didn’t help. The Panther guys worked so hard repairing the damage and they did such a great job putting our No. 4 car back together.”
HPC began working with Team Panther in 1999. The international coatings company worked closely with the team’s engineers to utilize HPC’s HiperCoat Extreme™ exhaust coating for heat management and HPC’s friction reducing coatings on internal engine parts to maximize engine and car performance. HPC coatings have been used by 14 Indianapolis 500 winners and helped power 2006 Indy 500 winner Sam Hornish, Jr. to his two IRL Championships in 2001 and 2002.
Meira began driving in the IRL in 2002 for Andretti/Green Racing team. The next year he signed on with Rahal Letterman Racing where he was awarded the inaugural IRL Rising Star award. In 2005 he signed on with Team Panther and has continued to move up in the Indy Racing League’s rankings where he is currently in 5th place for point standings. Meira and the Panther Racing team will travel next to the Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Ca. for the Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma.
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