Rice Roars to Third MBNA Pole for 2004 at Kansas Kansas City, July 3, 2004 There's no stopping Buddy Rice and the ...
Rice Roars to Third MBNA Pole for 2004 at Kansas
Kansas City, July 3, 2004 There's no stopping Buddy Rice and the #15 Argent Mortgage/Pioneer Panoz G Force/Honda Rahal Letterman Racing team, who earned their third MBNA Pole Position of the 2004 Indy Racing League IndyCar Series season (and fourth consecutive front row start) for tomorrow's Argent Mortgage Kansas Indy 300 at Kansas Speedway. Rice, the 2004 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race winner acknowledged, "My Panoz G Force has been good in qualifying on all tracks this year.
"It doesn't matter whether we qualify early or late in the session because all of the adjustments we've been making seem to work," Rice said. His lap of 210.141mph was more than 4/10s ahead of second starter Tony Kanaan, yet eight miles per hour slower than Scott Dixon's mark in 2003 when all cars had 3.5-liter engines. "I think we should be okay for the race tomorrow," Rice noted. "In fact, we've been okay since Homestead and I think we've got a good handle on the car. We should be quite strong in the race."
On a relatively cool day (temps in the mid-70s) with partly cloudy skies and some wind, Vitor Meira earned third on the grid in the #17 Team Centrix Panoz G Force/Honda, the twin to Rice's car. The Brazilian noted his team "improved our Panoz G Force from practice and it was better for qualifying. I thought we were going to have a fast car this weekend, but this morning we had too much understeer. The crew did a great job getting it ready for qualifying and, while I knew I couldn't beat Buddy, third is good and we have a good race car." His fast lap of 209.342mph was less than 8/10ths behind Rice; the entire field of 21 cars is separated by .6868-second, the fifth closest grid in IndyCar Series history.
Despite furnishing less than a third of the field with chassis designed and built in the United States, three Panoz G Force drivers made it into the top ten during time trials. Rookie Kosuke Matsuura will start eighth in his #55 Panasonic/ARTA Panoz G Force/Honda (208.652mph) and noted, "On this track it is mostly the car during qualifying, and we had 90% of the car's potential for this result. I was flat out all around. I think we can have a very good result tomorrow and hopefully I can finish the race, not like Richmond and Texas," where the rookie was very fast, but not terribly lucky.
The Argent Mortgage Kansas Indy 300 takes the green flags shortly after noon (CDT) on the Fourth of July. The race airs live on ABC television in the United States. Buddy Rice hopes to start the fireworks early with his Panoz G Force, Honda, Firestone combination.