RICE WILL START THIRD AT MICHIGAN BROOKLYN, Mich. - Rahal Letterman Racing's Buddy Rice posted one of his top-qualifying efforts of the season claiming third on the starting grid for Sunday's Firestone Indy 400 at Michigan International Speedway.
RICE WILL START THIRD AT MICHIGAN
BROOKLYN, Mich. - Rahal Letterman Racing's Buddy Rice posted one of his top-qualifying efforts of the season claiming third on the starting grid for Sunday's Firestone Indy 400 at Michigan International Speedway. Rice posted a fast lap of 218.908 mph in the No. 15 Argent Mortgage/Pioneer Honda/Panoz/Firestone, which locked up his second best starting position of the season. Rice's RLR teammates Danica Patrick and Vitor Meira qualified eighth and ninth respectively on the 2.5-mile superspeedway.
The qualifying effort may just be what Rice needs to snap him out of a seemingly endless funk which has seen him register five DNF's this season. Rice won at MIS a season ago driving a brilliant race and winning despite leading only 13 laps.
"This is a good run for the Argent/Pioneer Honda team," said Rice. "There has been a little black cloud that has been following us for most of the season, and now we are back at a track that we put the car in victory lane last year. So I think there is a confidence level for this team. I know that 400 miles is a long race and you have to have everything working together to win. We're going to put another big H-powered Honda in this car for the race and see if we can get back to the winner's circle. Last year the race strategy was very important for us to win and I think you will see that again on Sunday. There will be drafting and fuel conservation throughout the race. We just want to be in position to win again late in the race. We just need a solid full-blown weekend with the car. We have had a lot of little things happen just like last weekend in Milwaukee where a mechanical failure put us in the wall. But now we're happy to have a good qualifying run and we can continue this kind of the performance in the race too. Hopefully we can get some luck on Sunday."
Rookie phenomena Danica Patrick posted the eighth fastest qualifying lap at 218.479 mph in the No. 16 Argent Mortgage/Pioneer Honda/Panoz/Firestone. Patrick will make her eighth top-ten start of the season and her eighth top-ten start in the last nine races.
"That (qualifying run) is the first time we have the car balanced well today," said Patrick. "I'm happy with that. You have to be happy with car by yourself before you can have a good car for the race. I think we have that now. We definitely improved the car from earlier in practice and we are going in a good direction for the racecar. You would like to go for pole every weekend and you try for that, but the bottom line is one person gets the pole. So we are in good shape right now. The race should be interesting for me since I haven't been here before, but I think there should be some good racing out there."
Vitor Meira qualified ninth posting a fast lap of 217.590 mph, his seventh top-ten start of the season. Meira, currently seventh in the championship, has posted the top RLR result in eight of the 11 races this season.
"That was a good start to the weekend in qualifying," said Meira. "I have raced here enough to know that qualifying really isn't that important here at Michigan. So I'd like to be on the pole, but we have a good car for the race. So I am ready to go. The big thing is that we have a Honda engine and at a place like this the power is the most important. It just takes very little changes to go faster and Buddy and Danica did that today, but the race is the key for me. We have been fast here before and Buddy won here last year. The heat won't be as hot as last weekend in Milwaukee, but the heat could be a factor for downforce in the race. Having Buddy and Danica as teammates helps our Menard/Johns Manville Honda team too. We are able to exchange information for practice, qualifying and the race. Any little help is good. You are talking about tens and hundreds of seconds so you need to get as much information from all of the drivers as possible."
The Firestone Indy 400 will air live on ABC Sunday afternoon