IRL: Fontana: Panoz G Force qualifying report

Dixon hits mark for qualifying - leads five Panoz G Force drivers in top ten FONTANA, CA, October 2, 2004 - It's usually not advantageous to be amongst the first to qualify for a superspeedway race in the Indy Racing League's ultra ...

Dixon hits mark for qualifying - leads five Panoz G Force drivers in top ten

FONTANA, CA, October 2, 2004 - It's usually not advantageous to be amongst the first to qualify for a superspeedway race in the Indy Racing League's ultra competitive IndyCar Series, but today Scott Dixon used the second spot in line to earn second on the 22-car grid with his #1 Team Target Panoz G Force/Toyota/Firestone racer.

Dixon, the 2003 IRL champion recorded his best qualifying effort of the season with a lap of 216.301mph on the 2-mile California Speedway oval. "We trimmed the Panoz G Force out as much as we could for qualifying and picked up half a second from practice this morning," he revealed. The wind picked up just before the 2:30PM time period and "pushed me high in turns one and two on my first lap. It really got my attention," he said.

Teammate Darren Manning qualified in the #10 Team Target Panoz G Force/Toyota fourth on his first flying lap of 215.822mph but then crashed in the turn two SAFER barrier. He was driven to Loma Linda Hospital for precautionary x-rays due to back pain complaints.

The first driver to take timed laps, Adrian Fernandez starts fifth with the #5 Quaker State/Telmex Panoz G Force/Honda he's used to secure two victories this season. With the wind buffeting him, Fernandez was "pretty loose in one and two. We didn't have a lot of time to prepare (after having gearbox problems this morning) but we're fine," after posting a speed of 215.270mph.

Vitor Meira lines up sixth in the #17 Team Centrix Panoz G Force/Honda with his lap of 215.141mph, having to qualify right after clean-up for Manning accident. "The track is the same as it was before," he shrugged. "We learned a lot in practice and the wind affected us. We would have changed fifth gear but we're really close," he remarked.

2004 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race winner Buddy Rice starts seventh with the #15 Argent Mortgage/Pioneer Panoz G Force/Honda after running a 214.824- mile qualifying lap. "We ran about the same we did in practice and I think we'll have a really good race car come Sunday," Rice intoned. "It will take good handling and a consistent car to win this race and I think we've got that." Rice will try for the Triple Crown tomorrow, having already posted victories at Indy and Michigan.

Sunday's race of 200 laps begins just after noon and is being telecast live on ESPN.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Adrian Fernandez , Buddy Rice , Vitor Meira