The intrepid Curt Cavin has finally addressed something no other mainstream “journalist” covering the IRL has: what happened to Vitor Meira at Texas Motor Speedway.
Question: I asked after the Texas race about Panther's claim that Meira and Kosuke had been treated wrong by not being put on the lead after leading going into a caution. You didn't give a response, but I see in your grading of Panther you say Vitor lost a lap because of a "scoring error" in Texas. Scoring error on who's part? Should Vitor have actually won Texas? (Kurt, Chicago)
Answer: First of all, I'm sorry if I didn't answer your question; the volume of them prohibits me from answering all of them. It appears Vitor should have been a lap ahead of the field at Texas due to a mistake made by the IRL, but league officials have yet to come forward with that admission.
If you were not aware – and quite frankly who could have been given all of the NON SIDE-BY-SIDE COMMERCIALS during the tape-delayed broadcast of the Bombardier Learjet 550 – Vitor was leading at lap 49 when a yellow flag occurred. While most of the front-runners had already made a pit stop at that point, Meira had not and was a lap up on the field when he chose to pit under yellow. Unfortunately for Meira and Panther Racing, while he was pitting a number of other drivers roared past the pace car (allegedly despite much yelling by the Iron Hand of Justice) and pretty much gave themselves their lap back.
From the Panther Racing recap:
During the first yellow flag period on Lap 47, Vitor was leading the race and completed his first pit stop. At the same time, several cars passed the pace car under yellow, which led to serious confusion on the part of IndyCar Series officials. Instead of retaining the lead of the race, Meira was shuffled behind several cars, many of which had to make two pit stops under the yellow. The team was never given a proper explanation for the mix-up.The summary is this: Vitor was one of six cars to finish on the lead lap, but those other 5 supposedly passed the pace car and got their lap back. They basically all gave themselves NAPCAR Lucky Dogs and knocked Meira off the lead. Consequenlty, the Mirror Man remains winless in 67 IndyCar events.
Vitor Meira: "We're still trying to figure out what in the world happened during the first yellow flag. I was in the lead during the caution, did my pit stop, and ended out behind several cars that had to make two stops. The Delphi car still should have been leading the race. What an absolute mess. I wasn't one of the cars that passed the pace car, and somehow we end up near the end of the line? I was the only one to respect the pace car, and I was the one that was the most penalized. It might not have changed the final result at the end of the day, but I thought the Panther team was lucky and instead we were penalized. We still don't have an answer."
Everyone makes mistakes so we aren’t going to condemn the Iron Hand of Justice lest he smite down our very existence. But it must be said that in this era where there are multiple video cameras at events and electronic sensors exist in both the cars and the tracks it seems extremely unusual that this would happen at all. How is it between lap 49 and 228 none of Barnhart’s minions had a chance to review the video and tell drivers X, Y and Z that they are now minus one lap for passing the pace car? Isn’t this the kind of thing (and at the same track, no less) that got USAC scorers booted from the IRL ten years prior? Just askin’.
Then again, this is what has become of Vitor’s ICS career: finishing no better than second whatever the circumstances.
The irony of course is that Sam Hornish Jr – who recently called out Vitor as “desperate" to win in Iowa – was the direct beneficiary of the T&S mess in Texas. There is unparalleled respect for Sam at My Name Is IRL, but he should probably be giving Vitor some sympathy instead of grief. Or at least a thank you card.