If there is ever an IndyCar recasting of the Katherine Heigl romantic comedy 27 Dresses (and why would there be, but stay with me for a second), Vitor Meira would have to be cast in the leading role.
No driver in the modern era has romanced the podium so many times without walking down the aisle himself. Meira has a stellar career record that features 15 podiums and 42 Top-10 finishes but never a trip to the top step in his 98 starts.
A career-defining win at Indy would certainly change his status in the sport and the history books. And that's not to say Meira hasn't been close. He's been very close.
The Brazilian veteran has finished second in the Indy 500 twice (in 2005 and 2008, and has finished in the Top-10 at the big race in five of his seven starts. His 2009 race ended in a spectacular fashion when he locked wheels with a charging Rafael Matos in turn one on lap 174, and the subsequent crash shelved him for the remainder of the season with two broken vertebrae.
Paired again with A.J. Foyt Racing for another shot in the 2010 race, the ever-upbeat Meira has shaken off a disappointing qualifying setup that resulted in the 30th slot. He vows that starting in the back end of the grid won't be a problem, and he figures to be a driver to watch slicing through the field like a lawnmower along with fellow Brazilian Tony Kanaan.
"I can guarantee you that - that's how it worked out and it's going to pay off," Meira said. "Everything's looking good. We're prepared, the car is ready and it will be a big one"
Driving for Super Tex can be a double-edged sword, particularly at a track like the Brickyard where he has probably discarded more information than most drivers learn in their careers. The four-time Indy 500 winner is known to be a particularly demanding
boss, but many longtime fans were shocked to see Foyt reduced to tears when Meira finished third at the season-opener in Sao Paulo.
The operative term for Meira this time around isn't charge, it's patience.
"Patience - it is a big word. Always. It's 500 miles. Patience and attacking at the right time," Meira said with a veteran's confidence. "It all depends on where you're starting and what you want to accomplish. A Top-10 is really realistic. Anything better than that we need things to happen that we can't control, but a Top-10 is pretty realistic."
Of course, Meira would be the last one to complain if he ended up winning. Heck, it'd probably even make the boss shed a couple more tears and certainly earn Meira a lifetime supply of Foyt's famous homemade beef jerky.
Even the bridesmaid has to get married sometime.
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