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Meira bids farewell to US racing

Vitor Meira is departing the US open wheel racing scene, and will swap IndyCar motor sports for competing in touring stock cars back in his native Brazil in 2012.
Vitor Meira has decided to end his ten-year career in the IZOD IndyCar Series in the United States in favour of a return to his native Brazil and a seat in the Campeonato Brasileiro de Stock Car, the major motor sports series in the country.

Meira announced this week that he is joining the Officer ProGP Chevrolet-powered team, partnering with Duda Pamplona. The first round of the national touring car championship takes place at Interlagos on March 25.

"Everything has a beginning and an end," he told Brazilian media this week, clearly sad to be calling time on his IndyCar career. "I just have to thank all teams in Indy for the whole fantastic experience I have acquired over the past ten years," he said.

"I had some proposals to continue racing in the United States, but I strongly believe that the right decision at this time will be to enter Stock Car, one of the best categories of touring cars in the world."

He hasn't entirely ruled out the occasional return to US racing however, and tweeted on Friday: "FYI, I'm still working in some races in IndyCar!"

Meira has been racing in IndyCar since he made his début at Kentucky Speedway for Team Menard in the 2002 season, and he went on to claim his first career pole at Texas Motor Speedway a little over a month later, after just four starts.

He went on to race for Rahal Letterman Racing and then to Panther Racing with whom he enjoyed his best season in IndyCar in 2006, when he claimed three second-place finishes and three third-place results on his way to claiming fifth in the season championship.

Most recently Meira has spent three seasons with AJ Foyt Enterprises, although the first of those in 2009 saw him sustain two broken vertebrae in his lower back after a crash with Raphael Matos during the Indianapolis 500, which put him out of racing for the rest of the year. In 2011 Meira finished in 15th place in the championship, with his best result being fifth place in the eventful street race in Toronto.

However the recent announcement that Mike Conway is to take over Meira's most recent race seat in the #14 ABC Supply/AJ Foyt car for 2012 had left the 34-year-old Brazilian driver once again shopping around for a new IndyCar team, and instead of following that well-trodden path one more time he's decided it's time for a change of scenery.

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David Chaste - Unregistered

February 11, 2012 6:26 PM

It's amazing is stuck around for so long and was never a pay driver. I guess he was being forced to become a pay-driver now that the team is struggling. I think Vitor has the most races in Indycar without a win. Considering that Conway has a race win, can be just as good as anyone on road courses, and brings in sponsorship, it was almost a no brainer.

Racer's Edge - Unregistered

March 10, 2012 3:13 AM

It is a shame to see Vitor end (hopefully temporary) his U.S. driving career. He was one of the most talented and consistent drivers who towards the end of his open wheel career was able to out-perform his less than great equipment. Hopefully I will still get a couple more chances to watch him drive again on U.S. soil.

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