IRL: Homestead: Honda Friday report

Honda Drivers Lead Final IRL Pre-Season Test The 2005 Indy Racing League IndyCar Series got underway Friday at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the same way the majority of the 2004 season ran -- with Honda drivers and teams at the front of the ...

Honda Drivers Lead Final IRL Pre-Season Test

The 2005 Indy Racing League IndyCar Series got underway Friday at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the same way the majority of the 2004 season ran -- with Honda drivers and teams at the front of the field.

Honda-powered drivers claimed the top two positions -- and four of the top six spots -- in opening practice for Sunday's Miami Indy 300, the first race of the new season. Defending Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice, also the pole qualifier here last year, led the way with an average speed of 213.514 mph for Rahal Letterman Racing, followed by Andretti Green Racing's Bryan Herta, just five-hundredths of a second slower in second overall.

Vitor Meira and Dan Wheldon rounded out the top five. They were followed by Dario Franchitti in eighth, with 2004 Rookie of the Year Kosuke Matsuura ninth for Super Aguri Fernandez Racing. Scott Sharp, an IndyCar veteran but a newcomer to the Honda IRL effort, rounded out the top 10 in his official debut for Delphi Fernandez Racing.

Defending series champion Tony Kanaan ran ninth in the first practice of the day, but faded slightly in the afternoon heat to finish the day 13th, just ahead of Roger Yasukawa, making his first start this weekend for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing. Single-car qualifying on Saturday will set the field for Sunday's Miami Indy 300, the opening round in the 17-race 2005 IRL IndyCar Series.

Buddy Rice (#15 Argent Mortgage/Pioneer Rahal Letterman Racing Honda) Fastest in practice: "My best lap was set in the draft, for sure. The last practice, with everyone out at the same time, ended up as one big drafting session. I think most of the top times this afternoon were set in the draft. I think our qualifying times will be a little bit slower tomorrow. But the car is quite good; we were quick in the first session, running by ourselves, as well as in the draft. Overall, the field is even more competitive this year. I expect qualifying to be very close, and there may be more 'pack' racing here than in years past."

-honda-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Scott Sharp , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Bryan Herta , Dan Wheldon , Roger Yasukawa , Buddy Rice , Vitor Meira
Teams Dreyer & Reinbold Racing