Rear View Mirror: Richmond
June 26, 2006 | 2:21 P.M. EST
Competing in his fifth IRL IndyCar season (third as a full time driver), Meira finished second in Saturday’s Suntrust Indy Challenge at Richmond International Raceway. It was his second runner up finish in three races and fourth top-10 result of 2006.
"I think we had the best car in the field. We got hurt on our pit stops, but we drove back to the front," said Meira. "I've never driven a better short oval car in my life. It's awesome. We just have to tune a little bit to get the win. But we are as competitive as everyone else."
These recent positive results have catapulted Meira to fifth in the championship standings, and are also giving his No. 4 Panther Racing team the momentum it needs to challenge the top teams in the sport – as he is only behind the cars of Marlboro Team Penske Racing and Target Chip Ganassi Racing in the standings...
...hopefully, it will also see them land a top level sponsor they will need to compete against the best.
Meira has been competing sponsor less throughout this season, except for the Indianapolis 500, and many in the IRL garage are helping him campaign to find a company to put on his sidepods – including ABC/ESPN Commentator Rusty Wallace, who made a passionate plea for "some rich guy to sponsor this guy" during the broadcast of the race.
"These guys at Panther Racing are a family, and you can tell by the way they put these racecars together. I only worked as hard as the team did tonight, and that’s why we finished so strong," Meira declared after the race.
Should Panther Racing find a sponsor for the rest of the season, look for his "family" to work even harder than they already have this season to improve their program and make everybody involved proud.
Let the Marco rumors begin
The internet is a great thing (especially for people like me who are employed because of it). But one of the unintended side effects of this great creation is that rumors can spread like wildfires in a short period of time.
Take for example the case of 19-year-old Marco Andretti.
The grandson of Mario Andretti, the last American to win the Formula One world Championship, has strongly been linked to follow his grandfather’s footsteps and compete in F1 ever since his strong showing in the Indianapolis 500 – where he finished second.
After another positive showing this weekend, this time in his first short oval race of his career, another round of rumors has emerged on the World Wide Web.
Andretti, who finished fourth following a spectacular save coming off Turn 2 on lap 226, is now rumored to be heading to NASCAR’s NEXTEL Cup Series.
If the young rookie driver continues to make impressive runs like he has this season, look for him to be linked with more opportunities, ownership of his own team, and ruler of the world.
Just remember, you heard it here first.
With the conclusion of this weekend’s Richmond race, the IRL season has officially reached its halfway point.
After seven events, Marlboro Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves is the leader in the clubhouse with three victories. Combined those wins with two more top-10 results and it gives “Spiderman” the championship points lead with 251 points.
Sitting just four points behind Castroneves is his teammate Sam Hornish Jr. The winner of the Indianapolis 500 also took the checkered flag this weekend and is the current leader in top five results with five in seven races.
Scott Dixon (21 points behind), Dan Wheldon (34 points behind) and Meira (59 points behind) round out the top five with Tony Kanaan, Scott Sharp, Dario Franchitti, Bryan Herta and Andretti completing the top 10.
It is important to point out that only two drivers (Meira and Sharp) inside the top 10 do not have a teammate included on the list.
Finally, just in case there are still some Danica Patrick fans out there, she is currently 12th in the standings with four top-10’s to her record.